HONOLULU, Hawaii - The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state's tourism agency, and the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), Japan's sanctioned tourism association, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) yesterday at the annual Japan-Hawaii Tourism Council (JHTC) meeting.
Effective January 1, 2013, the MOU commits the HTA and JATA to launching a Hawaii Two Million Visitors Initiative, which will enhance destination promotions in order to reach two million Japanese arrivals to Hawaii in 2016. This target translates to an estimated US$4 billion in annual visitor spending and US$440 million in state tax revenue.
"This MOU represents more than a business relationship and affecting the bottom line," said Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the HTA. "The MOU is a natural partnership between the HTA and JATA that reflects and builds upon the historic bond, traditions, cultural heritages, and long-term relationship shared between Hawaii and Japan. Working together on this initiative will help to further strengthen our friendship."
Prior to signing the MOU, the HTA and JATA convened Hawaii and Japanese tourism executives at its annual JHTC meeting. Members focused on marketing initiatives that will stimulate shoulder-season travel, attract new demographics including first-timers, and increase distribution of Japanese visitors to all islands through continued efforts to establish a second point of entry and pre-clearance access, all of which will help to lay the foundation for the MOU initiative.
One of the priorities of the HTA strategic plan is to find a balance that will benefit the community and Hawaii's visitors, while preserving and perpetuating the place and culture of the Hawaiian islands. The Hawaii Two Million Visitors Initiative will stimulate Japanese visitor arrivals and spending that will positively affect economic growth, job creation, and new experiences for both residents and visitors to enjoy.
"While many Japanese have traveled to Hawaii before, there is still a greater majority who have yet to visit the Hawaiian islands," said Tatsuo Hayashida, Board Director of JATA, "The Hawaii Two Million Visitors Initiative offers an opportunity not only to capture a new market but also create first-time experiences for repeat travelers outside of Waikiki."
The JHTC also discussed the meetings, convention, and incentive (MCI) segment as a market to target, especially following the success of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in 2011.
"We would like to build upon the momentum and attention gained from APEC, which created new opportunities for MCI growth throughout the Asia-Pacific region," said McCartney, "By capitalizing on this interest in our state as a premier business destination, we are able to secure long-term travel to the Hawaiian islands from an emerging and growing segment."
"We are grateful that JATA is mutually committed to this effort, which will benefit the tourism economy, our community, and guests from Japan. The incremental US$2 million allocated by the legislature this year for international market development will help us to achieve this initiative," added McCartney.
The annual JHTC meeting was held on October 18