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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

O'ahu boosting profile in Japan

By Katherine Nichols
Advertiser Staff Writer

The O'ahu Visitors Bureau has increased the budget and scope of its marketing in Japan in an effort to speed recovery from an ongoing loss in marketshare and the sharp decline in Japanese visitors after Sept. 11.

The island bureau formerly devoted 11 percent of its $4 million marketing budget to Japan. Now, 25 percent will go to an array of Japan promotions, including wedding/honeymoon advertisements and a partnership with Mediacom, a large karaoke company in Japan.

"Japan is O'ahu's second-largest source market and our largest international market," O'ahu Visitors Bureau executive director Les Enderton said in a statement yesterday. "Japanese visitors make up approximately one-third of O'ahu visitor arrivals and half of all O'ahu visitor expenditures."

Since the dropoff immediately after Sept. 11, Japanese travelers to Hawai'i have slowly increased but still remain significantly down. Visitor days for Japanese travelers to the island in April were down 29.2 percent from April 2001 because of a 21.3 percent decline in the number of visitors and a shorter length of stay — 5.75 days instead of 6.39 days, according to figures released this week by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

In another move to try to boost the key Japan market, Enderton said, the bureau also hopes to adapt its travel agent training seminar to Japan in the next two years. The O'ahu Travel Specialist Program is designed to provide in-depth knowledge about O'ahu to people who sell the destination.

To date, 700 travel agents have completed the program, which involves a six-day tour of the island.

The bureau gets approximately $3.5 million from the Hawai'i Visitors & Convention Bureau, which forms the marketing umbrella under which the entire state is promoted. Bureau membership dues provide the remaining $500,000.