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The Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce
Special Message

Special Message from Lt. Governor Duke Aiona:
Promoting Hawai‘i Tourism in Korea

Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona

In effort to promote travel to Hawai‘i, I met recently with executives from the visitor industry in South Korea.

I am encouraged about my meetings with airline executives in South Korea, where residents become eligible on Nov. 17 to visit our state under a new visa waiver program.

This opportunity comes more than a decade after our visitors from Korea peaked in 1996, when we saw 122,000 travelers from this emerging market.

After the Asia economy crashed in1996, Hawai’i experienced a dramatic decrease in visitors from Korea. As evidence of its lingering effects, we saw only 42,000 visitors from Korea in 2007.

But with the new visa waiver program, we expect the number of travelers who come from Korea to Hawai‘i to double in the program’s first year to reach 80,000. That total is expected to double again in 2010 and hit 160,000.

In response, our administration will ask airlines in the Republic of Korea to increase their seat capacity. Already, Korean Air plans to add 581 seats per week, which represents about a 28 percent increase in its overall capacity.

Also, leading tour groups in Asia have pledged their support to help us promote leisure travel to Hawai‘i.

Another key goal while in Korea is to promote attendance to the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit & Expo, which will be held in Honolulu, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2009. The annual conference was held this year on Jeju Island in South Korea.

My trip is part of our administration’s five-point plan to market tourism and stimulate the state’s economy.

The visit to Korea comes as we attempt to address economic challenges statewide that largely stem from national and international factors.

We realize that we must not delay, or we could possibly will miss the "window of opportunity" to have a positive impact on Hawai‘i’s economy through the end of the year.

That’s why we are doing all we can to nurture opportunities in such key markets as South Korea.