Governor Neil Abercrombie and officials from the Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA) participated in back-to-back meetings in Tokyo yesterday. They met with representatives of various Japanese agencies that are key partners in the visitor industry.
Before discussing matters of business, the Governor relayed Hawai'i's ongoing commitment in supporting Japan as it recovers from the March tsunami.
"These are resilient people, and it is important for them to know that our aloha for Japan continues as it rebuilds," said Governor Abercrombie. "But it was equally important to build upon our relationship as we work to strengthen visitor industry ties."
According to the HTA, 17.6% of visitors to Hawai'i traveled from Japan in 2010. Visitor spending from Japan is up 4.9% to $1.27 billion for year-to-date.
Yesterday's meetings were:
* Japan Association of Travel Agents, led by Chairman Mr. Akira Kanai
* JALPAK, led by JALPAK President Makoto Onishi
* Japan Airlines, led by Japan Airlines President Masaru Onishi
* JTB/JWV, led by company president, Hiromi Tagawa
* Kintetsu, led by company president, Katsuhisa Yoshikawa
* H.I.S., led by company president, Akira Hirabayashi
JTB Corporation General Manager Toru Furusawa said, "The Governor has a clear vision and solid insight and we look forward to growing our relationship in order to strengthen Hawai'i's tourism industry."
"The energy and passion of Governor Abercrombie is infectious and unlike any others we have met before," commented JATA Chairman Akira Kanai.
The Governor travels to Okinawa today where he will participate in its Uchinanchu Parade and attend the Okinawa Governor's Reception. Tomorrow the Governor will be joined by University of Hawai'i President MRC Greenwood for meetings at the University of Ryukyus/Ryudai where they will also participate in a tree planting ceremony.
This is Governor Abercrombie's first international trip since taking office. He is traveling to Tokyo, Okinawa, and Beijing for meetings with travel industry leaders. He is accompanied by HTA officials who arranged part of the trip in an effort to reach out to international markets and strengthen economic relations prior to the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The Governor will also attend the National Governors Association U.S. -- China Governors Forum in Beijing before returning to Hawai'i on the October 21st.
Photos of the Governor's trip can be accessed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilabercrombie/sets/72157627872287544/