HomeCities to visitHawaii could see bump in visitors from Japan as travel restrictions ease Hawaii could see bump in visitors from Japan as travel restrictions ease admin September 5, 2022 Cities to visit No Comments Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! The Japanese authorities on Wednesday is considerably easing border controls by eliminating necessities for pre-departure COVID-19 exams for vacationers who’ve obtained a minimum of three vaccine doses, and rising each day entry caps to 50,000 from 20,000. Hawaii Tourism Japan Managing Director Eric Takahata mentioned these new developments won’t fully overcome headwinds from increased gas surcharges and the unfavorable alternate price, which at 140 yen to a greenback represents a 24-year low. They additionally will not be more likely to deliver sufficient visitors to succeed in an aggressive forecast made earlier this yr by the Japan Association of Travel Agents Chairperson Hiroyuki Takahashi, who mentioned that he anticipated to see Japanese visitors return to Hawaii this yr at 40% of the pre- pandemic 2019 degree and by subsequent yr can be again to regular. That forecast was based mostly on the concept visitors from Japan could return to Hawaii extra freely than authorities coverage has allowed. Instead, visitors from Japan in July have been nonetheless down almost 83% from July 2019, and about 93% for the primary seven months. Still, Takahata expects that the newest adjustments to Japan’s travel polices, together with just lately introduced flight additions, will assist Hawaii seize pent-up demand in time for the Honolulu Marathon in December and past. “It will hopefully create fourth-quarter momentum that runs into the primary quarter of 2023 and offers some profit for the Honolulu Festival, which returns in March for the primary time because the pandemic,” he mentioned. Dr. Jim Barahal, Honolulu Marathon CEO, mentioned easing Japan’s travel rules ought to construct extra participation for the marathon’s fiftieth anniversary yr. He mentioned 2,800 Japanese members have signed up for this yr’s occasions, which in addition to the 26.2-mile race, additionally embrace the Kalakaua Merrie Mile and the Start to Park 10K. “Our Japanese participation continues to be down about 73% from 2019, however we expect it to develop with the additional easing of travel restrictions,” Barahal mentioned. Last yr Barahal mentioned solely 125 visitors from Japan participated in the marathon and its different occasions. Barahal mentioned in extra regular years the three occasions appeal to between 32,000 and 34,000 entrants, half of which come from Japan. He mentioned this yr, up to now, complete enrollment for the three occasions is at about 20,000, even with enrollment up 110% from the mainland US. “We will not come near the 15,000 from Japan that we have had in the previous, however we’re hopeful that this easing of restrictions on Sept. 7 will result in extra visitors coming from Japan,” he mentioned. “It’s a very good signal that now we have retained our main Japanese sponsors Japan Airlines and Mizuno.” Barahal mentioned eradicating the testing requirement and easing different restrictions in Japan will assist increase travel, which is able to assist overcome lingering fears of travel. “It’s not solely having to take the take a look at to travel but additionally the sensation that it’s protected for them to travel,” he mentioned. Japan, which has imposed a number of the hardest border measures for the coronavirus, presently requires detrimental PCR take a look at outcomes inside 72 hours of departure for all entrants. The apply has been criticized as cumbersome and costly at near $200 per particular person. Takahata mentioned the better obstacle is that the exams introduce uncertainty. For occasion, if a customer examined constructive for COVID-19, the person needed to be ready to remain in Hawaii an extra 5 to 14 days for the virus to clear from that particular person’s physique. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who introduced Wednesday’s coming travel adjustments final month throughout a web based information convention, mentioned, “Our struggle in opposition to the virus will not be straightforward, however we shouldn’t be too afraid and as an alternative consider the traits of the omicron variant . We will pace up our responses whereas balancing the an infection measures and social and financial actions as a lot as attainable.” Japan partially opened its borders to international vacationers in June for the primary time in two years, however solely allowed those that agreed to hitch package deal excursions with guides. Business organizations in and outdoors Japan have known as for the nation to ease its border controls to help the economic system, particularly the tourism business, which has been badly harm by the pandemic. But many Japanese are cautious of additional easing border measures as a result of the nation has been fighting a seventh wave of infections. Still, air service between Japan and Hawaii has been constructing. In July, All Nippon Airways resumed service to Hawaii on its 520-seat A380 superjumbo jets. Last month Japan Airlines relaunched nonstop service between Tokyo and Kona. Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries, who gathered with different tourism and authorities stakeholders to mark the restart of direct service between Japan and Kona, mentioned in an announcement, “Japan Airlines flight 770 from Narita International Airport to the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport symbolizes the re-opening of a sky bridge that can unify us and strengthen our cross-cultural bond, whereas fortifying our efforts to boost commerce and commerce between our two nations.” Takahata mentioned Delta Air Lines is resuming direct service between Tokyo and Honolulu on Dec. 1, and Hawaii Tourism Japan expects Korean Air will make an announcement quickly concerning the resumption of direct flights. ——— The Associated Press contributed to this story. 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