For Friday, July 9, 2010
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 9, 2010
After the initial blast of media attention on the civil unions veto, the discussion has turned to the political and economic repercussions.
Yes, economic. By some estimates, travel by gay couples amounts to a $64 billion chunk of the tourism industry, some piece of which has landed in Hawaii coffers.
A Google search of the terms "boycott," "Hawaii" and "civil unions" turned up 140,000 hits. That's not the kind of word-of-mouth the Hawaii Tourism Authority wants to overhear.
It's too soon to say whether an appreciable number of tourists will follow through, or whether fallout will be more electoral in nature, sparking Prop-8-style campaigns. Of course, it could be both.
Approval of Hawaiian Airlines' first route between Honolulu and Tokyo's Haneda airport looks like another positive indicator for Hawaii's sluggish tourism industry. With visitor arrivals and overall spending from Japan showing signs of life -- both were up in May -- Hawaiian's service to Haneda, which is more conveniently located than Narita International Airport, looks well-timed. Now it's a matter of selling the tickets.
Hawaiian has begun to design its onboard service for this new flight to accommodate the desires of Japanese leisure travelers -- who, after all, might want their Hawaiian vacation to begin as soon as they step aboard the plane.