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Asia Minute: Will Japan's rising yen mean more visitors to Hawaiʻi?

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Hawaiʻi tourism officials often mention a weak yen as one factor behind a drop in Japanese visitors to the state.

But the yen is now in considerably better shape against the dollar than it was just two months ago — although still weaker than a year ago.

Based on exchange rates alone, a hotel room in late October would have cost a Japanese visitor nearly 32% more than it did at the end of 2021.

Now, that currency penalty is down to about 16% over last year's prices. That still doesn't account for inflation, but it means that currency differential is declining as a reason that's keeping Japanese visitors off the beaches in Hawaiʻi.

This week, Japan's central bank surprised financial markets by ever so slightly tightening monetary policy — a trend that normally could be expected to push the yen higher.

A weaker yen does make travel to Japan relatively cheaper, and the country is hosting more international visitors.

This week, the government said travel to Japan nearly doubled from October to November.

Still, the million or so visitors to Japan represent only about a third of pre-pandemic levels.

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