InsightHawaii Tourism Authority officials met March 23 to outline the organization’s recovery strategy in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Through June, the state now expects arrivals from Japan to plunge 21% and total expenditures across the destination to be off by nearly $250 million.

According to a release issued by Gov. Neal Abercrombie on March 24, Hawaii itself suffered an estimated $30.6 million in damage resulting from the tsunami.

“To respond to this situation, we have already been getting the word out through national and international news media that Hawaii is still open for business,” Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “And we are reiterating the statements by President Barack Obama, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the U.S. [Nuclear] Regulatory Commission that there is no danger to Hawaii from radiation.

“The HTA will also be implementing programs to grow the number of visitors from other major markets to make up for the decline in visitors from Japan,” he said.

During the March 23 meeting, the HTA board approved the use of more than $3 million from its Special Fund Reserve and Opportunity Fund for a range of initiatives aimed at offsetting shortfalls resulting from the Japan disaster, including three additional market media saturation campaigns in North America and efforts to increase airlift from South Korea, Australia and New Zealand along with direct charter flights from China.

Prior to the earthquake and tsunami, Hawaii officials were expecting $969 million in spending by Japanese visitors between January and June of this year, but they have now reduced that figure to $759 million. Total arrivals from all of Hawaii’s major markets were projected to be more than 3.5 million through June; however, that figure has now be reduced by 4.4%, or more than 154,000 visitors.

The HTA’s overall spending estimate of $6.09 billion by Hawaii visitors through June 2011 was revised to $5.84 billion.

“We are confident that by working together, our community will be able to respond to this situation, endure our current challenges and, at the same time, continue to support the people of Japan,” McCartney said.
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