HONONLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Tourism Authority has voted to spend $3 million in an effort to offset losses due to the Japan tsunami and ongoing radiation scare. That vote came after HTA got its first look at hard numbers projecting the impact.
"It's about 25% decrease in arrivals this month, 45% in April, 40% in May and another 35% in June. But we're working hard to get back the market and there will be opportunities to make up that difference," said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney.
After hearing the gloomy projections, the HTA went into executive session to explore alternatives. McCartney said the secrecy is necessary to keep competing destinations guessing and provide Hawaii with a strategic advantage.
An HTA spokesperson did tell us that the funds will be used to encourage visitors in feeder markets in North America, Korea, Oceania and China. The money will also be used to restimulate Japan when appropriate.
While McCartney is hopeful about mitigating the deficit in the short term, he emphasized the importance of Hawaii's ongoing relationship with Japan.
"First of all, the most important thing for Japan is for us to let them know that we care about them and we send them our aloha. Number two is going to be the timing in the market, when they're ready to travel again and we want our programs to be first and foremost in Japan's eyes," McCartney said.
The $3 million will come from the HTA's Opportunity Fund and the Tourism Fund Reserve.