A soon-to-be-published study from Hawaii Pacific University says that Hawaii's biggest international visitor craves a more authentic Hawaiian experience.
The study, which will be released in the Asian Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, states that a majority of Japanese visitors surveyed believe Hawaiian culture and customs is a very important part of their visit to Hawaii. The study showed that an overwhelming number of respondents were happy with the cultural experience they received in Hawaii but wanted more.
The study’s author, Hawaii Tourism and Hospitality Professor Jerry Agrusa, believes that one key advantage Hawaii has over other tourist destinations is its culture. “We're a sun, sea and sand destination and there are very similar beaches in other parts of the world and one of the things that makes us unique is the Hawaiian culture," said Agrusa.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority hopes to boast the number of Japanese visitors to 2 million by 2016 but there are some challenges, a recent less favorable exchange rate coupled with a Japanese consumption tax increase from 5 to 8 percent, which affects the price of airline tickets. Officials hope that a focus on a more cultural Hawaiian experience will help Hawaii reach that target in spite of the increased cost to the Japanese visitor.