Air China launches direct flight from Honolulu to BeijingUPDATED 10:46 PM HST Jan 20, 2014Video Transcript
a direct connection with Beijing, as weekly scheduled non- stop flights have begun between the two cities. The additional flights will not only allow more Chinese visitors to see the islands, they'll also help Hawaii tap into a rapidly growing tourism market. KITV4's Paul Drewes explains. 40 124 144 212 nat of music playing Hawaiian music filled a second floor corner of the Honolulu airport, nat of aloha lei giving and passengers were greeted with lei and lots of aloha... Even the Governor stopped by with a welcome. gov@31:49 "Tell them your friend Gov. Abercrombie says hello from Hawaii and invites you President Xi Jinping to visit us in Hawaii" Hawaii's leader and top tourism personnel rolled out the red carpet for these travelers because they are part of a coveted group mike@18:24-18:34 there's a lot of competition out there from around the world, a lot of people want Chinese visitors so we have to work hard to make sure we can compete with all the competing markets around the world Hawaii welcomed more than 123,000 visitors from China last year. With the increase in new direct flights from Beijing -- those numbers are expected to really take off this year. mike@17:11-17:20 we project about 180,000 visitors from China, its a developing market and we hope to grow it over time like we have done with other Asian countries in the past shot of plane landing To get here, these passengers took a flight more than 5000 miles long. Drawn to the islands, like visitors from other parts of the world, because of the natural beauty found here. xia@23:30-23:37 "the sunshine, the waves and the beautiful things" While it may be their first time to the islands, some already have a long list of things to see and do while they are here. angela@25:53-26:06 "Hilo, diamond hill, and the seaside and the food...laughs" Chinese visitors on average spend the most of any of traveler, nearly 400 dollars a day. With hundreds more arriving every two to three days on these newly scheduled flights, they are expected to spend about 80 million dollars here in 2014. And that could make a difference on the economy. gov@34:40-34:57 "This is a big big deal. and on the governor's level, we are working to get this visa travel waiver so we can get lots more visitors coming" Along with increasing the number of visitors, the additional Chinese travelers will help diversify Hawaii's tourism reach - which means a drop in visitors from other parts of the world would not have as big of an impact. Along with the new Air China flights, China eastern and Hawaiian Airlines also plan to expand flights this year.