Japanese travel agents resume Hawaii tours after two-year hiatus

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Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. announced on Wednesday that it will begin selling a package tour to Honolulu on Friday, for departures from April 28, about two years after it halted overseas package tours due to pandemic-induced travel restrictions .

HIS Co. also said it plans to resume package vacations to Hawaii, with departures from May 1, the first time it has run such tours to one of Japan’s favorite destinations since they shut down. in March 2020.

Japan decided earlier this month to raise its cap on international arrivals to 10,000 a day and opened its doors to business people and students as it gradually works to ease restrictions, although the entry of foreign tourists remains effectively prohibited.

JTB said it made the decision to resume such tours following an inspection tour by the Japanese Association of Travel Agents to Hawaii earlier this month.

After meeting with Hawaii Governor David Ige, Hiroyuki Takahashi, JTB president and head of the association, said, “We expect the number of visitors (from Japan) to Hawaii to fully recover in 2023 to 1.5 million per year, the same level as 2019.

The move spells good news for HIS, which has posted eight consecutive quarterly net losses as it grapples with the impact of COVID-19 on its business. It has also been hit by a scandal in which its subsidiaries misused government subsidies meant to boost domestic travel, distracting it from efforts to secure liquidity and reduce risk to weather the crisis.

The Tokyo-based company says its tours will offer “pre-departure to return home” customer support, including arranging PCR tests and a 24-hour Japanese-language helpline in Hawaii.

Japan is by far Hawaii’s largest source of international tourists, with more than 1.5 million air arrivals in 2019 before the pandemic, nearly triple that of the second-largest market, Canada. The figure for Japan dipped to less than 290,000 in 2020, according to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

HIS stock has plunged 33% since January 2020. It was little changed at 12:40 p.m. in Tokyo against a 1% rise in the Topix index.

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