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Abercrombie lays foundation for economic growth with Asia

MEDIA RELEASE

Visitor industry growth, economic cooperation, streamlining the visa process, and the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference topped the agenda of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s recent trip to Asia.

The governor visited Tokyo, Okinawa, and Beijing. While in China, he met with Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs Charles Bennett at the U.S. Embassy to learn more about some of the difficulties that potential Chinese visitors face in obtaining visas.

“I was encouraged by our Embassy and by Chinese leaders to pursue expediting the visa process,” Abercrombie said. “In order to attract more visitors from China, the State Department is working to streamline the visa process. I’m happy my relationships in Washington put me in a position where I can be helpful in coordinating with this effort.”

Abercrombie also met with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cui Tiankai and Chairman Shao Qiwei of the Chinese National Tourism Administration.

“These high officials are very much aware of the Chinese-Hawaii visitor potential and I believe we have established an excellent working relationship,” Abercrombie said.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), in 2010 Hawaii welcomed 62,032 visitors from China, an increase of 48 percent over 2009; per person per day spending was $351, up 23 percent; and per person per trip spending was $2,076, up 4 percent. The HTA projects approximately 91,000 Chinese visitors will arrive in 2011, up 37 percent over 2010.

Abercrombie also met with 35 travel industry leaders throughout Japan and China which were organized by the HTA.

HTA President and CEO Michael McCartney said, “No other Hawai’i governor has traveled so early on his or her administration to Japan and China, and our partners recognize his outreach and commitment to Hawaii’s No. 1 industry.”

While in Japan, the Governor expressed the state’s ongoing support as they rebuild from the March earthquake and tsunami.

“The governor was well-received wherever he went. He understands the role that the Asian market plays in our tourism industry but he also cares very much for the people in these countries,” McCartney said.

The Asia trip also afforded Abercrombie the opportunity to build new relationships in anticipation of the upcoming APEC conference.

“This is our chance to showcase that Hawaii is much more than just a visitor destination,” Abercrombie said. “The leaders from APEC’s 21-member economies will learn that our islands are the perfect gathering place to conduct business.”

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