Spewing volcano in Hawaii deters visitors, save the Japanese

Japan typically a crisis-sensitive travel market, but not in this instance

Following ongoing eruptions in recent weeks at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, ForwardKeys reported a slump in travel bookings from most of Hawaii’s top feeder markets in the month of May – with the exception of Japan, which bucked the trend with bookings up 10.6 per cent.

After the eruption on May 3, bookings for the period May 3-31 period slumped by 9.8%, with Canada down 23.2%, Australia down 32.2%, China down 39.8%, Germany down 47.7% and New Zealand down 27.5%.

Japan typically a crisis-sensitive travel market, but not in this instance

With Japan the one source market to buck this trend, ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder Olivier Jager said: “Normally, the Japanese market is super-sensitive to crisis situations and it is the first to cancel when any form of trouble occurs in a destination. Our hypothesis is that because Japan sits on the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ and has over a hundred active volcanoes, it is so used to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that they cease to be newsworthy.

“Indeed, the situation in Hawaii has featured less in the news in Japan than it has elsewhere. An analysis of online news clips of the Kilauea eruption revealed that media exposure in Japan was just 0.2% of total exposure worldwide.”

While bookings in May suffered, over the coming five-month period to the end of October, forward bookings are still 2.2 per cent ahead of where they were at this time last year.

Bookings for June and July are just 0.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent behind and bookings for August, September and October are up 6.7 per cent, 7.9 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively, which led ForwardKeys to suggest that the tourism outlook could be less worrying than might have been feared.

Analysing Hawaii’s most important forward bookings by origin market, Japan is 3.2% ahead, Australia 6.7%, Canada 3.1%, Germany 6.8% and New Zealand 27.0%.

A major driver of bookings from New Zealand has been a substantial increase in capacity, with nearly 60% more seats available in the June – October period.

The great disappointment is China, from where bookings are currently 18.9% behind for the period to the end of October.

Jager concluded: “Given the magnitude of media coverage, forward bookings to Hawaii are holding up surprisingly well. We are also aware that the vast majority of Japanese and other international visitors to Hawaii stay in Honolulu, which is on a different island from the one where Kilauea is erupting.”


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