In bad news for tourism industry, JTB Hawaii extends tour cancellations through March

Updated: Dec. 27, 2020 at 10:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - JTB Hawaii, one of Hawaii’s largest Japanese travel companies, extend its cancellations for tours at least until March, in another blow to Hawaii’s economy.

In making the decision, JTB cited soaring caseloads in the U.S. Mainland and Japan.

“Our Japan JTB Headquarters has decided to extend our Tour Operation Cancellation for ‘package and group’ tours till Feb. 28, 2021,” Tsuneo Ishida, JTB Hawaii Travel LLC’s president wrote in a letter to business partners.

“The coronavirus cases are still increasing in both Japan and the United States ...”

Ryan Tanaka, local business consultant and co-owner of Giovanni Pastrami in Waikiki, said the decision will mean more economic pain for small businesses and restaurants in Hawaii.

“Without the Japanese visitor, just the tourism segment of our revenue is going to be down to zero and that’s going to hurt us,” he said.

“At this time last year, we saw over 5,00 daily arrivals from Japan. Now you may see that many in visitor arrivals total come January.”

Japanese visitors not only represent Hawaii’s second largest tourism market but they also tend to spend more money than most on a daily basis.

Before COVID, about 1.5 million Japanese visitors traveled to Hawaii annually, with many of them booking through tour operators like JTB.

Only the U.S. mainland market was bigger with over 6.8 million visitors last year.

Hotel industry experts said the lack of Japanese visitors is trickling down to non-tourism sectors.

“I think the impact of JTB goes well beyond typically tourism spending and much more into community spending,” said Keith Vieira, former Starwood Hotels and Resorts executive and head of KV & Associates.

“So without them rebounding, you’re not going to have retail sales at the level you’d like. You’re not going to have restaurant usage” at the same levels, he said.

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