Thanks to a combination of factors, both indirect and direct, Hawaii has entered the new year with high expectations
for tourism in 2018.
2016 broke records for total visitors and
spending, and 2017 is expected to eclipse
those marks when final figures are released.
And 2018 is predicted to be a third
consecutive record-setting year,
according to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
David Hu, president of Classic
Vacations, is among those bullish
on the Hawaii market for 2018.
Hu has been with the company
since 2006 and also served on the
Hawaii Visitors and Convention
Bureau board of directors from
January 2013 to January 2015.
Hu spoke with contributing editor Tovin
Lapan about what he expects in the year to
come, trends to watch and how he would approach building a healthy Hawaii client base.
Q:How do you see Southwest’s entry to the market and increased air coverage to Hawaii affecting rates and travelers
A:I think it will definitely be a net posi- tive. More air seats are always a bonus
While the Caribbean has had JetBlue as a
low-cost carrier and has allowed for more
competition, Hawaii has gone through
its cycles, and there was a time
when airfares spiked up to $900
or $1,000. One of the first things
consumers look at is airfare.
They ask themselves: Where can
I go with a family of four and
not break the bank with airfare?
For a while that could be a
high barrier for entry into Hawaii, but the last couple of years
it has moderated. We have Alaska Airlines flying to Hawaii and
adding flights with the Virgin acquisition. Any additional flights and capacity only helps, and right now that capacity
is being absorbed. I think it’s great for the
Q:What about the impact of the clos- ing of interisland carrier Island Air?
A:Island Air’s market share has always been on the lower side. I don’t know
what Hawaiian Airlines will do with their
pricing without the competition, but I
think there would be a backlash if they
start price gouging. So much of the interisland traffic is the local market, the
overall impact would hurt residents,
and that would be unpopular. I think
the overall impact will be low, especially
because so many more flights are going
direct to neighboring islands. You can fly
straight into Kona or Kauai from a lot of
places now, when historically you had to
go through Honolulu. For those doing
multi-island hops, it does have the relative impact of decreasing capacity.
Q:In terms of tourism infrastructure and amenities, where is Hawaii lacking?
A:Overall, outside of the airports, I don’t see many tourism-specific
items that need improvements. Air in-
frastructure will need to improve. The
government wants direct flights from
Asia into the regional airports, and that’s
something that will need to be sorted out.
If you start bringing in the larger-capacity
planes like the 787s, and you are bringing
in more people, you will have to alleviate
some of the security and other bottle-
necks. They’ll need more space, more
places to eat, and they’ll want to make
that experience much more pleasurable.
After all, the airport is the first impres-
sion when they arrive and last impression
when they leave.
I think in Honolulu they take the domestic arrivals a little for granted. When
you fly in internationally, from Japan or
wherever else, they do it up a little bit and
the arrival experience is nicer. With the
domestic crowd they expect your goal to
be to get to the beach as fast as you can,
and the terminal is not as nice. Once you
start having delays and people sitting
around in the terminal, it doesn’t go for a
Q:What Hawaii properties are the hot spots for families right now?
Classic Vacations exec expects record growth to continue
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