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Hawai'i Tourism Authority: Chasing Chinese Millennials

Wayne Yoshioka

The 2018 Global Tourism Summit last week focused on attracting more affluent travelers who tend to stay longer and spend more.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Reene Ho-Phang, HTA China strategic advisor

There are 350 weekly flights out of China each week, 12 of them to Hawai’i.  Tourism Authority strategic advisor, Reene Ho-Phang, says the state enjoys a definite market advantage.


“The Hawaiian Islands is voted as the number one destination of interest, beating California and New York in a recent survey.  Yeah, let’s give us a round of applause”.


The current Chinese visitor spends more than 360 dollars each day in Hawai’i.  But luxury and family travel comprise the fastest growing outbound traveler segments in China.  Ho-Phang says the Tourism Authority is targeting 3 groups next year, starting with the so-called luxury escapees.


“Not quite the crazy rich Asians but they are the urban, high-salaried professionals trying to escape from stressful cities in China.  Also, we are targeting the YOLOs – You Only Live Once – and you see them jumping off planes and spending money.  The third is the multi-generational families.  They tend to choose better hotels because they travel with children.  Also travel with their parents.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Andrew Koh, HTA managing director for Taiwan

Ho-Phang says Hawai’i is the most expensive destination for Chinese visitors because competing destinations are lowering their prices.  But, HTA will leverage the higher prices and market Hawai’i as the Diamond of all Islands.  Andrew Koh is HTA’s managing director for Taiwan, with 16 million outbound travelers.


“Last week, we just got news from one of our biggest insurance agents in Taiwan, called Cathay Life Insurance.  They have a definite coming into Hawai’i for 4-thousand pax with 2-thousand room nights in May 2019, next year.  We beat a lot of competition, like Dubai, L.A., Paris.  We’re the most expensive among them but we’re still able to beat them.”


Major tourist destinations worldwide are competing for Chinese Millennials between the ages of 20 and 35 who make up one third of China’s population.  Ho-Phang says this group has quickly moved to paperless transactions.


“Ninety percent of Chinese consumers now use mobile payments.   And, so we are spending more because it’s much more convenient.”


According to Goldman-Sachs, China has an estimated 415 million millennials, 90 million more than the entire population of the United States.  And, their income will grow by more than 3 trillion dollars over the next decade.   Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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