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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Japanese to attend tourism conference

Advertiser Staff

In an effort to boost slumping Japanese tourism to Hawai'i, a group of Japanese travel-business executives and local travel industry experts will hold a daylong tourism conference in Honolulu early next month.

Participants in the Dec. 8 summit will include 40 executives from the Japanese travel industry, including chief executives of 20 of Japan's top travel companies responsible for about 75 percent of the tourism sales in the Japanese market.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Japanese tourism to Hawai'i has slumped as much as 60 percent. The conference agenda is designed to reassure the Japan travel market and will include discussions of expanded collaboration between the travel industries.

"This is to continue the discussion on bringing back the Japan business to Hawai'i," said Barbara Okamoto, vice president of consumer trends for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Leading the Japanese delegation will be Ryuji Funayama, president of Japan Travel Bureau (JTB), Japan's biggest travel agency, and Isao Kaneko, president of Japan Airlines. Gov. Ben Cayetano will lead the Hawai'i participants.

Japan Airlines said it also is flying 60 representatives from the Japanese media to report on the conference and cover the JAL-sponsored Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 9.

"We are hoping that media coverage of this event back in Japan will help prime overseas tourism demand by demonstrating to the traveling public that it's time to get back to normality and that we live in a safer, more secure world," said JAL spokesman Geoffrey Tudor.

Travel abroad by Japanese has plummeted since Sept. 11. Tudor said yesterday that JAL's international traffic was off 35 percent in October and 40 percent in November, but booking levels for December and the New Year are showing increases.