2006年06月04日

Decade of JAL service to Kona

Japan Airlines and the Big Island's visitor industry celebrated the airline's 10 years of service between Tokyo and Kona yesterday.

During the past decade, Japan Airlines has flown more than 700,000 visitors from Tokyo's Narita International Airport to Kona International Airport, according to the Big Island Visitors Bureau. The impact can be seen in new businesses catering to the Japanese, said Margo Mau Bunnell, the bureau's director of international sales and marketing.

"We have resorts that have recently opened Japanese restaurants, Japanese-specific tour operators, a huge increase in agricultural exports such as coffee and papayas to Japan, and much more," Bunnell said.

Japan Airlines, which flies daily to Kona and Honolulu, offers the only direct international flight to the Big Island.

Japanese visitors remain valuable to Hawai'i's visitor industry because they usually spend more daily than other tourists. Their spending dollars also go beyond hotels and into the community, said George Applegate, executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau.

"They go to restaurants, little mom-and-pop stores," he said. "They have an appreciation for our culture."

More Japanese are also spending honeymoons or getting married on the Big Island, Applegate said.

While Japanese visitor arrivals to Hawai'i so far this year have declined, the number of Japanese tourists visiting the Big Island is up 10 percent, according to state figures.




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