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Asia Minute: Japanese visitors in 2021 were a tiny fraction of Hawaiʻi’s overall count

AP Photo/Marco Garcia
(FILE) Two visitors from Japan take pictures of each other in the waters of Waikīkī Beach, Friday, March 11, 2011 in Honolulu.

The latest figures from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority confirm that last year saw a sharp drop in visitors from Japan. A big factor is the quarantine restrictions Japanese residents face when they return home. And these rules are now even tougher for Japanese flying back from Hawaiʻi.

Many Japanese still love Hawaiʻi, they just don’t visit nearly as often.

Japan has tight quarantine rules for returning residents — and enforcement has increased since the early days of the pandemic.

One local impact here: according to figures just released by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, the state had roughly 12 times the visitors from Japan in 2020 than it did last year — never mind the busy days of 2019.

From another perspective, in 2019 Japanese visitors represented a little more than 15% of all visitor arrivals to Hawaiʻi.

In 2020, they made up nearly 11% of all visitors.

Last year, according to the latest HTA figures, only 0.4% of visitors to Hawaiʻi came from Japan — a pace that did pick up significantly late in the year.

The rules of the Japanese government have shifted again. Now the quarantines are shorter, but they are more strictly enforced.

The U.S. Embassy in Japan has a map on its website showing which states face extra restrictions, including six days of quarantine at a government-designated facility, followed by another four days of quarantine at a hotel or private residence.

Seven states face those extra restrictions — including Hawaiʻi.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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