Japanese visitors have played an important role in driving Hawaii’s tourism numbers to new records. But since North Korea made threats about Guam this summer, Japanese travel to that Pacific island has dropped. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
A couple of years ago, nearly half of all visitors to Guam came from Japan.
But not these days.
Kyodo News reports the number of Japanese travelers to Guam dropped by nearly 40 percent in October from a year earlier – the third straight month of double-digit declines.
It was back in August when North Korean president Kim Jong Un specifically threatened Guam as a potential target for a missile attack.
Kyodo says a big factor in the falling tourism numbers is a series of cancellations of planned school trips.
Visitor numbers have also dropped from China, Taiwan, the Philippines and the United States, but they’ve actually picked up from South Korea.
In fact, the Guam Visitors Bureau says South Korea has now become the island’s top tourist market. And when the bureau reported its tourism numbers for the fiscal year that ended in September, the results were a record: nearly 1.6 million.
The bureau projects visitor numbers for the current fiscal year will see a slight decline—although it plans to continue its marketing push in Japan and South Korea.
Airlines are taking a mixed approach to these developments.
Delta is dropping its flight from Tokyo to Guam next Monday, while United will stop flying from Sapporo the following week.
Japan Airlines is taking another course: increasing its flights from Tokyo to Guam starting in the spring.