Hawaii eyes tourism jump from Japan's longer 'Golden Week'

HONOLULU — The tourism industry in Hawaii is anticipating a boost from a stretch of Japanese holidays known as "Golden Week" that has been extended this year.

The four national holidays typically held over seven days are a popular time for Japanese tourists to visit Hawaii, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

This year the holiday period has been extended to 10 days between April 27 and May 6 because of a change in the Japanese royal family. Emperor Akihito is scheduled to abdicate the throne on April 30 in favor of Crown Prince Naruhito, who will replace his father on May 1.

Hiroyuki "Keith" Kitagawa, the CEO of JTB Hawaii Inc., Hawaii's largest destination management organization, said he expects nearly 40 percent more Golden Week visitors this year. About 8,700 travelers have already booked trips.

The extra three days make it more convenient for Japanese workers to go on vacation, especially on long-haul trips, Kitagawa said.

Eric Takahata, managing director of Hawaii Tourism Japan, said some travelers have paid as much as $5,000 for one economy class airline seat. Most travelers are paying at least a 30 to 40 percent premium, he said.

Last year, the number of Japanese visitors to Hawaii dropped 1 percent to 1.59 million.

The four-month eruption of Kilauea Volcano, which temporarily closed much of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, deterred travelers, as did Hurricanes Lane and Olivia.

Typhoon Jebi, which struck Japan on Sept. 4, caused cancelled flights and the closure of Kansai International Airport in Osaka for almost two weeks.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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