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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Japanese again bypass Hawai'i for Golden Week

By Michele Kayal
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i will take fourth place behind Korea, Europe and the U.S. Mainland among the favorite Golden Week destinations of Japanese travelers, Tokyo's largest travel agency predicts.

Japan Travel Bureau said it expects to send 58,000 visitors to Hawai'i during the annual spring holiday that spans 11 days this year from April 26 to May 6.

That figure is down from last year's 59,000 visitors, when the holiday period also was 11 days long.

By contrast, Korea will show a 14 percent increase in visitors, with 88,000 going its way, JTB said. Europe will receive 87,000 holiday travelers, or 7 percent more, and the U.S. Mainland will lose about 7 percent, with 63,000 visitors arriving compared to last year's 68,000.

In 1998, Hawai'i was Japan's No. 1 Golden Week destination, JTB said. Since then, however, it has not appeared among the top three.

The importance of Golden Week to Hawai'i's visitor industry goes beyond its mere ability to shore up the typically slow times of April and May. Many tourism executives use Golden Week as a barometer for what the peak summer season and the rest of the year could hold.

JTB's flat forecast comes just after the Hawai'i Tourism Authority staked out a defensive posture on tourism growth, aiming not to gain ground in 2001, but to avoid losing it.