Boosting International Tourism to the Hawaiian Islands
In the last six months Hawaii and the United States have seen numerous initiatives aimed at boosting international tourism.
In January, President Obama signed an Executive Order that will ease access for international travelers to visit Hawaii and the rest of the United States. The President’s plan is to increase the number of Chinese visitors entering the U.S. by ensuring that visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks, increasing the visa processing capacity by 40 percent, and considering Taiwan for visa waiver status.
The VISIT USA Act, introduced to Congress in January, outlines a plan to establish five-year multiple entry visas for Chinese visitors. These efforts coupled with President Obama’s initiatives will help to increase travel from China, one of the fastest growing and highest spending markets to Hawaii’s tourism economy.
Last month, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea announced a reciprocal agreement between the two nations that allows for expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Travelers from Korea to the U.S. are able to apply for Global Entry benefits, which allow participants to utilize the Global Entry kiosks, present their passport, scan their fingertip, and provide their customs declaration forms. Honolulu International Airport is one of the 26 international airports that offer this service for travelers to and from Korea, another fast growing market to the Hawaiian Islands, increasing 37.5 percent in arrivals for the first quarter of 2012.
While arrivals from these and other international destinations continue to increase, airlines continue to expand their reach to match the demand. In the past year, the addition of new flights from Australia, Japan, China and Korea, and subsequent increases in arrivals from those regions during the first quarter of 2012, demonstrate the growing demand for travel to the Hawaiian Islands.
Act 171, which was recently signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie, provides the HTA with additional funds to support travel from international markets to the Hawaiian Islands. This Act complements the national achievements and programs being set forth to increase international tourism, including the upcoming “Fifty States in Fifty Days: America the Unexpected” promotion. The campaign will feature Hawaii on July 21 through the Brand USA website, Social Media and multimedia exhibitions at 450 embassies and consulates. We would like to express our appreciation to the 2012 Hawaii State Legislature and Governor Abercrombie for their support toward enhancing international arrivals to the Hawaiian Islands.
The HTA will work with its international marketing partners and the visitor industry to build upon the momentum and synergy of these initiatives in order to strengthen awareness and interest in Hawaii as a top global destination.