If Hawaii governor Josh Green gets his way, Hawaii may receive Japanese visitors as domestic passengers, opening the way to more flights than currently exist, especially to neighbor islands.
Hawaii is working with the US and Japanese governments to create a familiar system that exists, for example, from Ireland, the Netherlands Antilles, Bermuda, the United Arab Emirates, the Bahamas, and Canada. Eight Canadian airports pre-clear visitors departing to the US, including Hawaii, to expedite arrival here and permit travel directly to neighbor islands. If approved, this would recreate that system, allowing Japanese tourists to complete customs and immigration procedures prior to departing Japan.
Currently, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on the island of Oahu is the main gateway to other islands in Hawaii from Japan, and second in line is Kona on Big Island. If travelers can complete immigration procedures before departure, it will simplify entry to Hawaii and pave the way for direct flights to other islands, such as Maui, Green said in an interview during his recent visit to Japan.
If approved, direct flights from Japan could fly into Hawaii airports that currently have no such international arrival facilities. All this is a questionable attempt to boost tourism to Hawaii from Japan. That given multiple factors that include the Japanese economy and priorities that are clearly not focused on Hawaii travel, especially by younger Japanese. In fact, Hawaii tourism from Japan doesn’t appear poised to return for years. Japan tourism arrivals to Hawaii currently sit at only about 31% of normal, with spending at 35% of normal.
Gov. Green is focused explicitly on bringing Japan flights to Maui.
Being somewhat late to understanding the dire state of tourism on Maui, Green said while in Japan recently, “It’s very important that people travel to Maui because our recovery will be accelerated if people do visit anywhere in Maui, anywhere at all.”
Ultimately, this will be a decision by the federal government.
Back to the idea of thoughtful tourists.
Green said while in Japan earlier this month, “Japanese tourists have traditionally been among our best tourists because they are very thoughtful about the culture and also spend a great deal of resources.”