Hawaii tourism

Tourism in Japan and Hawaii could climb in the coming months

WAIKIKI, Hawaii (KHON2) – The pandemic has been difficult for many local businesses, especially those that depend on international tourism.

Japanese tourists have had strict travel restrictions throughout the pandemic, but things are looking up.

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The Japanese government dropped its pre-travel testing requirements for all returning travelers on Wednesday, September 7 as long as they received at least three doses of the COVID vaccine.

The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association said that was good news.

“It’s huge because in the past when a visitor from Japan came, obviously they had to make sure they were negative before they came back,” said HLTA President Mufi Hannemann, “sometimes it took a some time before that can take place.”

Hawaii Tourism Japan said pandemic restrictions have caused Japanese visitors to the island to drop by about 90%.

“And now I think we’re down about 83%, but with that last hurdle being removed on September 7, we’re expecting a great end to the year, sort of a traditionally busy time for the Japanese. .”

Eric Takahata, General Manager of Hawaii Tourism Japan

The president of SKY Waikiki told KHON2 that Japanese visitors make up the majority of his customers.

“I think it was like 40%, 30% Japanese tourists, so now 5%? So you can tell what impact we had,” said Hide Sakurai. “Blue ocean, blue sky, what is missing? I am thinking of Japanese tourists and other tourists from the Asian market.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association added that tourism doesn’t just benefit visitors.

“Remember that a lot of your neighbours, a lot of your relatives, work in the hospitality industry. So the hospitality industry is what fuels our islands and so we need our tourism to come back,” said Sheryl Matsuoka, Executive Director of HRA.

There is also good news for locals wishing to travel to Japan; All bookings had to be guided tours with strict timings and supervision until Wednesday.

“And you can now sign up for these self-guided tours, with certified and registered tour operators,” Takahata said.

Don’t just book a ticket, Takahata said, tourists to Japan need travel visas with permission from the health ministry.

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“Tour operators surely know how to do it,” Takahata said, “They help you with visas, they help you with all the necessary documents and documents you need to travel to Japan as a visitor.”