Just before 10 this morning the first regularly-scheduled direct flight from China to Hawaii touched down at Honolulu International Airport bringing visitors to the Islands for stays of up to a week. Onboard, too, were 18 members of the Chinese news media who will be on the ground in Hawaii for three days, visiting both Oahu and the Big Island, for their coverage of the inaugural flight.
Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO Mike McCartney called the landmark flight on China Eastern Airlines “wonderful news” for the state’s tourism economy. The agency says the new route is expected to produce $60 million in additional visitor expenditures, with the average visitor from China spending $368 per day.
HTA has been working toward this day for almost five years, since signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007. Much of the work included easing barriers to obtaining leisure visas in a timely manner.
HTA expects the flights will bring 91,000 visitors from China to the Islands through the rest of 2011. The new route will arrive twice weekly in Honolulu – on Tuesdays and Friday’s at 9:50 a.m. – and depart two hours later each of those days for the return flight to Shanghai.
Tour packages offered to the Chinese visitors through tour companies Ctrip and U-Tour include stays from three to seven nights plus optional Neighbor Island packages.
Photo: Mr Michael Phams