Maui Business

Hawaii Attempts to Offset Japan Visitor Shortfall

March 29, 2011, 11:47 AM HST
* Updated March 29, 12:41 PM
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By Wendy Osher

File image by Wendy Osher.

The Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) is reporting continued recovery in February 2011; but anticipates impacts following the March 11, earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Total visitor spending in February increased by 18.7 percent.  HTA officials say the results are significant because the $1 billion in spending surpassed the amount spent during the peak year of 2007.

“By remaining focused in our strategic direction and brand marketing efforts, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, together with our industry partners, had been maintaining momentum in all key major market areas, and projections for the rest of 2011 indicated strong growth,” said Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.  He continued, “Clearly, we realize that this changed with the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.”

Since that time, the sentiment has been one of support and outreach.  “Our first priority is to offer our support and stand in unity with the people of Japan,” said McCartney who noted the agency’s involvement in the Aloha for Japan fundraising initiative.

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In light of the events in Japan, the HTA launched an Economic Recovery Plan aimed at achieving the agency’s 2011 strategic goals and preserving its momentum toward economic recovery.  The plan includes $3 million in funds that will go towards targeted growth from other major markets to offset the visitor shortfall from Japan.  There’s also plans for improved air lift and efforts to maintain demand from China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

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“This is a challenging time for Japan and Hawai’i,” said McCartney, “but we are confident that by working together, our community will endure and move forward to a stronger economic future.”

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