Maui News

Amendment Aims to Ease Travel from Hong Kong to Hawaiʻi

May 16, 2013, 9:55 AM HST
* Updated May 16, 9:56 AM
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Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, file photo by Wendy Osher.

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The US Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment that could make it easier for Hong Kong tourists to visit Hawaiʻi, US Senator Mazie Hirono announced today.

The measure is reportedly identical to one introduced by Sen. Hirono earlier this year.

According to Hirono, the amendment to the visa waiver program could have a big impact on the state’s economy, making it easier for thousands of tourists from the region to visit.

“Right now, people in Hong Kong can visit more than 140 countries and territories without visas, but these potential Hawaiʻi tourists must still endure a time-consuming visa approval process in order to come to the United States,” said Sen. Hirono in a press release announcing the potential benefits of increased tourism from Hong Kong to the state.

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According to Sen. Hirono, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority reports that visitors from Hong Kong spend $230 each day–or 20% more than the typical Hawaiʻi visitor–and stayed longer.  The HTA figures also reportedly included estimates of 4,000 people visiting Hawaiʻi from Hong Kong in 2012.

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The immigration reform legislation comes following the addition of Taiwan to the Visa Waiver Program last year.

Following the passage of the reform, Hawaiian Airlines announced plans to launch nonstop service between Taipei, Taiwan and Honolulu.  At the time, airline officials said the service–which is expected to launch in July 2013–capitalizes on the Visa Waiver Program that was extended to cover citizens of Taiwan.

***Supporting information courtesy US Senator Mazie Hirono.

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