HONOLULU - The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and Hainan Airline Group, China`s fourth largest airline, today signed a memorandum of cooperation to increase travel opportunities for Chinese tourists to visit Hawaii.
“Hawaii holds a very special place among Chinese people who wish to travel abroad,” said Mr. Chen Feng, Chairman of Hainan Airline Group. “I believe that over the next five years we will see a huge increase in Chinese visitors to Hawaii.”
The memorandum states that HVCB and Hainan Airline Group will work cooperatively to promote and facilitate tourism from China to Hawaii. Among the initiatives, Hainan Airline Group will designate travel agencies in China to organize groups to visit Hawaii.
Besides general tourism, these will include “targeted” approaches such as eco-tourism, sports tourism, programs built around Dr. Sun Yat-sen-a one-time Hawaii resident and founder of modern China, and short-term training. HVCB will assist these groups with applications for tourist visas from relevant U.S. agencies.
Tony Vericella, President and CEO of HVCB, noted that travelers from China are the fastest growing segment of Asian visitors to Hawaii. “Our cosmopolitan lifestyle, unsurpassed natural beauty, the welcoming spirit of our multi-cultural people, and the continued positive influence of China in our culture and way of life make Hawaii an ideal destination for the burgeoning China travel market.
“For the past several years, HVCB has been diligently laying the groundwork to position Hawaii as a primary travel choice for Chinese visiting abroad. The agreement with Hainan Airline Group is another important step in the focused marketing efforts to enhance Hawaii`s standing within China`s travel industry,” Vericella said.
Mr. Chen added that, depending on relaxation of visa restrictions, Hawaii could see an increase to several hundred thousand Chinese visitors per year. “One million or more visitors is not out of the question,” he added, “as that is a small proportion of China`s total demand for overseas travel.”
The HVCB-Hainan Airline Group agreement comes during a time when domestic and international travel is rapidly increasing among Chinese citizens, whose disposable incomes are also rising due to China`s economic growth.
According to the China National Tourism Administration, 10.5 million Chinese traveled abroad in 2000, an increase of 13 percent compared to 1999. The World Tourist Organization predicts that, within two decades, 100 million Chinese will travel abroad annually.
Hainan Airline Group owns 10 hotels throughout China, with two resorts and golf courses in Hainan Province. It also owns two airports in southern China.
Founded 10 years ago, Hainan Airlines has grown into China`s fourth largest airline, with assets of close to US $4 billion. With a fleet of approximately 80 aircraft, the company operates over 300 routes and serves 100 domestic markets in China. A publicly listed company traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Hainan Airlines` largest shareholder is the Soros Foundation, part of financier George Soros` group. The airline consistently has ranked among the top China carriers in terms of profitability, safety, on-time performance, and cabin service.
In a recent article in the Far Eastern Economic Review titled, “The Best Little Airline in China,” Hainan Airlines` success was attributed to efficiency, service, and substantial independence from China`s central government.
For more information about Hawaii, the Islands of Aloha, visit the HVCB`s Web site at www.gohawaii.com or call 1-800-GOHAWAII.