HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — As Japanese authorities ease COVID restrictions across the country, Hawaii’s tourism industry can expect a rebound. But industry leaders predict the return of Japanese travelers will be gradual, and it will take some time before Hawaii’s economy feels the positive effects.
At the height of the pandemic, the number of Japanese visitors to Hawaii fell by more than 80%.
Tourism experts are optimistic that the Asian travel sector – which was once a driving force in Hawaii’s tourism sector – will gradually return to full steam.
Japanese visitors made up about 15% of Hawaii’s annual visitor numbers, but the average Japanese tourist spends 25% more per day than the average mainland tourist.
“I know there is a pent-up demand for travel. We’ve spoken with some of the travel writers out there and some wholesalers and I think they just want to make sure they’re doing it right,” said Keith Vieira of hospitality consultancy KV & Associates.
Vieira said many tourism officials in Japan were waiting for the governor to tell the public it was okay to travel to Hawaii again – after telling travelers to postpone trips in August.
“The sooner we can tell people it’s safe to be in Hawaii, the better,” Lieutenant Governor Josh Green added.
“We all know now that the risk is low. We’ve seen our hospitals drop 60%, we’ve seen our caseload drop 75% from the peak. »
Currently, Japanese visitors must self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning home. But tourism experts say they expect the Japanese government to reduce or even eliminate this restriction.
Green thinks the state should pursue other strategies as well.
“I think it would be great to have a bubble with Japan and I know the governor has talked about it in the past. But now is the time to implement it,” Green said.
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