Thursday, March 17, 2011

How Will the Catastrophe in Japan Affect U.S. Tourism?

While Japan will take time getting back on its feet after a devastating tsunami in Sendai and now a nuclear crisis, some experts have turned back to the U.S. to analyze another kind of damage--one to the travel industry. Despite declining numbers of Japanese tourists in the United States over the past decade, Japanese visitors still comprised the fourth-largest tourist group to the U.S. in 2009.

Japanese tourism levels simply didn’t recover after the 9/11 attacks, and they never reached the same numbers they had pre-2001. In 2000, 5.1 million Japanese visited the United States; in 2008, that number decreased to 2.9 million. Japanese tourism is greatest in Hawaii, where the islands receive 17.4% of their visitors from Japan for a total of 1.2 million--who spend $1.93 billion, or about $160.9 million a month. While the Hawaiian Tourism Authority was planning on a 2.1% increase in tourism this year, it’s predicted that those numbers will soon be revised.

“The market is very important,” David Uchiyama, vice president of brand management at the Hawaii Tourism Authority, told the press. “We saw an initial dropoff with the earthquake and tsunami. Since then, our arrivals into the state year-over-year were in the 17% to 19% dropoff [range].”

Uchiyama examined past information available regarding crises in Japan and how it affected Hawaiian tourism, and he said that the 1995 earthquake in Kobe resulted in a 12.4% drop in one month, but that the drop was “pretty much isolated [and] at the end of the year, overall for the Japanese market, we were up.” A similar case involved SARS in 2003, when summer months experienced a substantial drop--more than 30% in one month, for example--but the year was down only by 9.6%.

How will Hawaiian tourism fare in light of recent world changes? What about U.S. tourism in general? While we're waiting for updated numbers, we might as well donate.

Helping Japan
Struck by the severity of the tsunami? These giving options can help Japan relief efforts.

Go to or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.

Visit International Medical Corps’ website for donation information or text MED to 80888 from any mobile phone to give $10.

Go to UNICEF’s site to fill out a donation form or text JAPAN to 864233 to give $10.

Access the Salvation Army website to find out about their mobilization efforts, and then text 'JAPAN' or 'QUAKE' to 80888 to make a $10 donation.

Did you know that Americans are among the most charitable people in the world? Even if you plan on sending more than $10 to the people of Japan, you can help provide immediate supplies with a small gift now. It doesn’t take much from everyone, but if everyone gives, it’ll provide serious relief to those left homeless, without supplies.

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