Japanese visitors cancel trips to Hawaii

Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie

By Lisa Kubota - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's economy will likely take a major hit since many visitors from Japan are canceling their trips to the islands. After the recent recession, 2011 was shaping up to be a strong year for the state's visitor industry, but now the cancellations are coming in.

"The people of Japan, in general, will mourn, and out of respect for those affected will choose possibly not to travel," explained hotel manager Julie Arigo of the Waikiki Parc Hotel.

The Waikiki Parc Hotel and its sister property, the Halekulani, have noticed an impact on reservations. Roughly half of the guests at the Waikiki Parc come from Japan, and some arrivals are already being affected.

"Not a lot right now, maybe a handful at this time," said Arigo. "But that doesn't mean we don't expect to see maybe a few more or more cancellations in the upcoming week or so."

Tourism is one factor used by the Council on Revenues for its forecast of how much money the state will have so that lawmakers can create a balanced budget. Governor Neil Abercrombie plans to ask members to update the figures issued last week before Japan's disaster.

"The economic consequences will be severe for us in the immediate. That obviously is a factor the legislature is going to have to take into account when we try to settle how we're going to deal with our budgetary necessities," said Abercrombie.

Outrigger Enterprises Group expects to see some decline in business group travel. Japanese visitors account for 10% to 15% of the guests at the Outrigger's Hawaii hotels.

"I think we're concerned that other properties and other companies that do higher degrees of Japanese business will likely be more competitive going forward," said CEO David Carey.

While there is some disappointment in the visitor industry, officials said their main focus is on offering any assistance they can.

"We, as an industry, are going to get together later on and try to identify ways in which we can shore up this market that has been very, very important to Hawaii through the years," said Mufi Hannemann, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association. "But first things first, and that is to extend a helping hand."

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