USA. Hawaii’s tourism industry has been badly affected by the eruption of the Kilauea volcano, according to figures from analyst ForwardKeys.
In the first four months of 2018, total international flight bookings to Hawaii (excluding the USA) were up +5.4% year-on-year.
The volcano erupted on 3 May and bookings between that date and 31 May fell -9.8%. Canada was down -23.2%, Australia -32.2%, China -39.8%, Germany -47.7% and New Zealand -27.5%.
The only source market to buck this trend was Japan, where bookings were up +10.6%.
“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,” noted ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder Olivier Jager. “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.”
Over the coming five-month period to the end of October, forward bookings are still +2.2% ahead of where they were at this time last year, ForwardKeys said. Bookings for June and July are just -0.5% and -1.6% behind and bookings for August, September and October are ahead +6.7%, +7.9% and +2.3% respectively. “The tourism outlook seems less worrying than might have been feared,” ForwardKeys noted.
By origin market, forward bookings from Japan are +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,” reported ForwardKeys. “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.
“Therefore, we believe that the messages from the Governor and the Hawaii Tourism Authority that the volcano is in a remote location, over 100 miles from the main tourist resort areas, and that the islands are open for business, have credibility and are, to a significant extent, being heeded.”