UHERO REPORT: Japanese Quake Won’t Derail Recovery

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization released the following report today about the impact of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami on Hawaii’s economy.

“After dramatic improvement in 2010, the visitor industry has suffered a setback with the sharp falloff in Japanese travel following the March earthquake and tsunami. Because of the damage to travelers’ confidence and willingness to spend, the Japanese market recovery will be gradual, slowing the pace of the Hawaii visitor industry expansion in 2011.

“Baring a further sharp increase in energy prices, the drop in Japanese visitors will not derail Hawaii’s economic recovery. Limited job growth has taken hold in recent months, and we expect that to continue to broaden and deepen this year.

“Economic recovery spearheaded by gains in tourism continued through March with the sixteenth straight month of positive arrivals growth. Japanese arrivals were up 16% in
the first two months of the year, although they fell off sharply after the earthquake.

“Performance was strong across all other major market segments: first quarter US visitor arrivals were 8.5% higher than a year earlier, and Canadian arrivals were nearly 25% higher. Visitor expenditures continued to climb in March, posting their eleventh straight month of 10% or better year-on-year gain.

“The pace of visitor recovery will be slowed, but not halted, by the aftereffects of the March 11 Great Tohoku earthquake. Although damage to Hawaii infrastructure was limited, the earthquake and tsunami have had a significant adverse effect on Japan and on the willingness of Japanese consumers to spend on luxuries. In recent weeks, airline passenger counts from Japan have been running about 25% below year-earlier levels.

“While there are recent promising signs, such as the decision by Japan Airlines to restore a Narita-to-Honolulu flight that it had suspended after the quake, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reports that scheduled airline seats from Japan are expected to be almost 10% below year ago levels for the April-June period. Recovery to nearly
normal levels will take more than a year. (See the Box, “How Much Will the Japanese Earthquake Hurt Hawaii?”)

“The recently announced 30% increase in fuel surcharges on ANA and JAL flights will also weigh heavily on Japanese travel. For the year as a whole, Japanese arrivals will post a nearly 11% loss, but rebound by more than 10% in 2012.

“Prospects for the US market remain good, although we expect a tapering off of gains after the buoyant performance in 2010. This year US arrivals will expand by 4.7%, with an additional 1.5% gain in 2012. Visitors from countries other than the US and Japan will expand by 8.7% this year, compared with last year’s very strong 19.6% growth.

“Total arrivals will grow 2.7% this year and 3% in 2012. By next year, the annual average for both visitor arrivals and visitor days will be just 1.5% lower than the level in 2007.
Visitor industries on the Big Island and Kauai will continue.

“The Japanese earthquake has led to a pause in visitor industry growth, but unless we see a further spike in oil prices, Hawaii’s economic recovery will continue to build strength.
For the full report from UHERO and How Much Will The Japanese Earthquake Hurt Hawaii, click here:

Vetos Coming, Governor Tells Lawmakers, But He Quickly Signs Mortgage Foreclosure Law

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has already told lawmakers that he may veto two bills:

1.       HB382, HD2, SD2- Grants explicit authority to the Auditor to inspect the documents and financial affairs of the Department of Taxation.  Requires the Auditor to implement internal policies to protect confidentiality of private personal information contained in tax returns.  Provides penalty provisions applicable to the Auditor or Auditor’s agent for disclosure of tax information.

2.       SB1416, SD1, HD1- Extends the period in which an owner of a new car is exempted from obtaining a certificate of inspection from two years to three years from the date of purchase. Effective January 1, 2013.

Abercrombie also signed Senate Bill 651 into law on Thursday relating to foreclosures.

His statement says the law reforms the foreclosure process by “implementing additional protections to individuals facing foreclosure or at-risk of foreclosure. Among other things, the measure establishes a temporary mortgage foreclosure dispute resolution program and authorizes conversion from nonjudicial to judicial foreclosure.”

Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Chair Roz Baker championed the measure: “We’re giving a time out to our consumers so that they can wait for the provisions of this measure to kick in.  When it becomes law, they will have the opportunity to convert to a judicial foreclosure or beginning October 1 they can go through the dispute resolution process. In addition, no new nonjudicial foreclosures can commence once the bill is signed.”

However, the bill has a number of critics and some lawmakers expect it could come under legal challenge.

Hawaii Fifth Graders Help Japan

Maemae Elementary School fifth graders Trinity and Piper were moved by the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  In reaction to what they saw in the media, they decided to create a fundraiser to raise money for survivors of the devastation, called “Ohana for Japan.”  The fundraiser will be held on May 6th, at Maemae Elementary School’s Family Fun Night in room 6 from 2:30 to 8 p.m.

Donors will able to write messages on one thousand  origami cranes, 400 of which the girls folded themselves.  The girls spent several weekends folding cranes and creating banners and flags that will be sent to Japan.  Kapiolani Community College students donated 3 boxes of folded cranes to help the girls with their fundraiser.

“I’m impressed that Piper and Trinity had the initiative and took it upon themselves to help the people of Japan,” said Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, who represents Sand Island, Kalihi, Liliha, Nuuanu, Pauoa and Puunui.  “It shows us that young students like them can make a difference in the lives of people, even in another country.

– Submitted by the Senate Communications Dept.-

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