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Hawaii’s tourism industry latest victim of US-China trade fight

The pool at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore.

Amanda Macias | CNBC

KAWELA BAY, HI — A rising cloud of financial anxiousness is looming over Hawaii, as the continuing commerce struggle between the world’s two largest economies threatens to chop off a once-steady circulation of Chinese language vacationers.

As of June, Chinese language customer arrivals have dropped by about 36% in contrast with the identical interval final yr, in response to figures supplied by the Hawaiian Tourism Authority.

“Hawaii would like to capture more of this lucrative market, but two federal issues diminish our growth opportunities: visa requirements and the Trump administration’s antagonistic trade policies. As long as the U.S. puts restrictions on travel and takes on a more combative political posture, the Chinese will choose to vacation elsewhere,” Hawaii state Sen. Glenn Wakai instructed CNBC.

“The Chinese have an appetite to travel, and they do so with fat wallets. Hawaii would like to lay out the welcome beach mat, but we cannot do so if the federal government doesn’t unlock the door,” he added.

The Asian market is a crucial tourism sector for Hawaii, Wakai stated.

“One out of every four jobs in Hawaii is directly related to tourism, so any negative impact on demand from Asia could cripple Hawaii’s economy,” he stated.

Final month, President Donald Trump and Chinese language President Xi Jinping agreed on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan to restart negotiations and never impose new tariffs on one another’s items. Commerce talks collapsed in May, with mental property theft proving to be a serious sticking level between the 2 events.

“We can’t let politics get in the way, because at the end of the day, tourism is a major economic revenue generator throughout the world,” Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Affiliation, instructed CNBC when requested concerning the commerce struggle between Washington and Beijing.

Hannemann stated that previously few years there was a decline in Chinese language customer numbers to Hawaii however that the Trump administration’s present coverage “only exacerbates the situation.”

A view of a seashore at Oahu’s Kualoa Regional Park.

Amanda Macias | CNBC

In 2018, practically 10 million vacationers from world wide visited the Aloha State’s sun-soaked islands, producing $18 billion and using greater than 200,000 individuals. About 20% of these guests traveled from Asia, with Japan, Korea and China offering the lion’s share.

And whereas Chinese language vacationers symbolize lower than 2% of Hawaii’s whole customer depend, they keep longer and spend more cash in contrast with different Asian vacationers. On common, a Chinese language vacationer stays a bit greater than eight days and spends roughly $350 a day when vacationing in Hawaii.

“The Chinese certainly have a reputation of being high-end travelers. They like to eat at fine restaurants, they visit upscale shops, and they’re adventurous too, since they tend to book excursions and like to move around the island,” Hannemann stated.

“There is also a lot in Hawaii that lends itself to be very Chinese-friendly in terms of the culture we have here,” he stated. “It’s a place that they can easily identify with, and we offer everything that they like to see when they travel except for gambling. So, it’s a market that we know, and the money that is generated from their visits to Hawaii is something that we take very seriously.”

“I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail over this,” he added.