Hawaii Tourism Association Working With Hainan Airlines To Start Offering Direct Flights From Beijing To Honolulu
Recently, the U.S. Department of Commerce projected that 556,000 Chinese tourists would the United States in 2010 — a 15% jump over the year before — and that by 2015, that number would exceed 800,000. As Jing Daily noted last month, as travel restrictions continue to ease and more Chinese tourists head outward, a number of American states have kicked up their promotional efforts in the China market, with more states incorporating the Chinese language into their websites and Hawaiian governor Linda Lingle traveling with a delegation to six Chinese cities last fall in the hopes of drumming up more Chinese tourism to her state.
As Ted Liu, Director of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said around the time of Lingle’s China trip, once Hainan Airlines begins offering direct flights between Beijing and Honolulu some time in 2010, Hawaii tourism officials expect to see nearly 12,000 more mainland Chinese tourists in Hawaii per year.
“Chinese are traveling, and they are spending money. As a matter of fact when I walk around Waikiki now, I’m amazed at the amount of Mandarin Chinese that I’m hearing.”
This week, at the Shanghai World Expo, Hawaii is increasing the volume of its China sales pitch, spending about $450,000 to be a part of the U.S. pavilion. This marks the largest and most expensive single promotion in China ever by the Hawaiian state tourism authority. According to David Uchiyama, vice president for brand management for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state’s nearly half a million dollar expenditure on the expo is geared toward generating demand for travel to Hawaii and to prod Hainan Air to finally set a concrete date to begin its direct Beijing-Honolulu flights.
From the Honolulu Star Bulletin:
David Sun, marketing director for the Hawaii tourism office in Shanghai, said Hawaii competes with other beach destinations like Bali, Thailand and Malaysia, which are closer, cheaper and have less restrictive visa requirements. China is also developing its own beach resort on Hainan Island in the South China Sea.
But Hawaii has a broader appeal than competing locations because of its diverse culture, aloha spirit and because luxury items are less expensive in Hawaii than in China, Sun said.
Ala Moana and the Waikele Outlet stores are popular destinations for Chinese tourists, he said.
The average Chinese visitor spends more than $312 a day, surpassing the Japanese. Most Chinese stay about three days and spend the money they save staying in midrange hotels on purchases, Sun said.
Sun said marketing efforts in China are focused on educating consumers about Hawaii and developing Hawaii as a destination rather than a stopover. He said the office is working with travel wholesalers in China to build four- or five-day packages that include neighbor islands, perhaps a visit to the volcano, in addition to sun, sand and shopping on Oahu.
While it’ll likely take several years — and more loosening of visa restrictions — before Chinese tourists become a notable fixture at Hawaiian resorts, the state seems to be doing a good job of reaching out to the China market when it’s still at a pretty young stage and engaging in direct outreach at venues like the Shanghai World Expo.
A commercial made by the Hawaiian tourism association for the Shanghai World Expo: