Businesses suffer from fewer Japanese flights - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Businesses suffer from fewer Japanese flights

Wedding photographer with a Japanese couple. Jim Mendoza photo. Wedding photographer with a Japanese couple. Jim Mendoza photo.
Tomoaki and Natsumi Kitayama here on vacation from Japan. Tomoaki and Natsumi Kitayama here on vacation from Japan.

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaori Takekoshi photographs weddings for Japanese couples who come to Hawaii for a symbolic ceremony.

Since the earthquake and tsunami, business has fallen by ten to fifteen percent.

"They are stopping from traveling - many, many people in Japan," Tomoaki Kitayama said.

He and his bride, Natsumi, are here from Tokyo on their honeymoon. But in some ways they're the exception rather than the norm as Japanese curtail travel while their country recovers from last month's disasters.

"They are canceling and re booking, rescheduling for later," Takekoshi said. "We're hopeful in that way."

But that hope is now tinged with more uncertainty.

Japan Airlines latest announcement extends its reduction in flights from Japan to Honolulu by another month through May.

"They're just playing it by ear. If demand is there they'll turn on the switch and line up the planes," said Hans Hedemann who owns a surf school in Waikiki.

About a third of his clients come from Japan. The upside is April is usually slow.

But Hedemann knows other companies that are suffering big time.

"Some of the vendors and the Japanese agents that we do business with say that they're down about fifty percent," he said.

The cuts have been drastic for Odoriko Japanese Restaurant. Normally, the crowd is eighty percent Japan Japanese.

"Now that's kind of turned over. Now it's more twenty percent Japanese and more American and European customers," restaurant vice president Rie Takei said.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority projected last month that traffic from Japan would fall by about ten percent. So far it's been pretty close.

"We'd love everybody to be back to normal, full throttle doing the best we can," Hedemann said.

Right now "normal" and "full throttle" are taking a back seat to a downshift in Japanese traffic that's expected to last even longer.

Copyright Hawaii News Now 2011. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly