Japan: One Year Later
It has been one year since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, causing a ripple effect across the Pacific. While deeply concerned about the people of Japan, Hawaii also received a tsunami warning, and had to focus on keeping visitors and residents safe and informed.
As an immediate response, the HTA activated its Crisis Command Center at the Hawaii Convention Center, working with emergency officials and industry partners to keep visitors aware and informed of the situation. Once it became clear that Hawaii was safe, the HTA worked closely with industry partners, including airlines, tour and hotel operators and wholesalers, to assist visitors from Japan in their return home.
“Our entire state and Hawaii’s visitor industry worked together diligently to provide aid to visitors and residents who were affected by the disaster in Japan,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO, HTA. “This hard work, coupled with the compassionate nature of the people of Hawaii, revealed the true meaning of Aloha Spirit to our brothers and sisters in Japan and the rest of the world.”
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the state of Hawaii joined together for the “Aloha for Japan” campaign. Collectively, Hawaii raised $8 million to provide to the relief effort. The HTA’s marketing partner, Hawaii Tourism Japan, also conducted relief missions in northern Japan, offering food, water, entertainment and other activities for evacuees in regions that were hard hit by the disaster.
The effect from the losses of the Japan market to Hawaii’s tourism economy was a concern; however the HTA implemented a successful recovery plan to stabilize all markets. Despite the decline in visitor arrivals and spending from the Japan market, overall visitor spending continued to grow throughout 2011. By the second half of 2011, visitor arrivals and spending from Japan started to rebound and Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines established new routes servicing Fukuoka to Honolulu, demonstrating the resiliency of the Japanese people and the pent-up demand for travel to the Hawaiian Islands.
In 2012, the HTA projects more than 1.3 million visitors from Japan will come to Hawaii spending $2.34 billion, up 4.1 percent and 11.9 percent respectively. Japan continues to be the largest international market to Hawaii’s tourism economy and there has been a long history and connection between the two places.
The HTA looks forward to welcoming visitors from Japan back to the Hawaiian Islands in 2012 after a difficult 2011.