Low-cost Korean carrier Jin Air to begin flights in Hawaii this month

December 10, 2015
(Korea Times file)

(Korea Times file)

South Korean low-cost airline Jin Air’s arrival in Hawaii, with Seoul-Honolulu flights beginning Dec. 19, is drawing excitement from the local tourism industry.

Although the state’s Korean population is eclipsed by its Japanese population, the Korean tourism market is far ahead, according to Kim Eun-mi, the Korean representative for Hawaii’s tourism department.

Kim said the Korean tourism market has grown 15 percent yearly since South Korea implemented a relaxation on foreign travel restrictions for its nationals in 1989.

Though travel to Hawaii in that time period also increased, the popular view of a trip to Hawaii is of expensive airfare and high regional cost, she said.

The Hawaii tourism department predicted 190,000 South Koreans to visit this year but saw only about 177,000, lower than last year’s 178,090.

Daniel Nahoopii, director of the department’s tourism research, said he expects visitors from Korea to grow 6 percent, at 187,000 tourists, next year.

According to Lotte Tour CEO Harry Baek, 40 percent of South Korean tourists to Hawaii are honeymoon couples.

“If Hawaii wants to increase the number of South Korean tourists, they must consider offering family-friendly vacation packages,” he said.

Jin Air is a subsidiary of Korean Air.

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