Bridging Hawaii And The World

By Tsukasa Harufuku
President & CEO of JTB Hawaii

Hawaii’s appeal as a world-class tropical destination is undeniable. Incredible natural beauty, first-class accommodations and a rich Hawaiian host culture are a few of the many reasons travelers from around the globe desire to vacation in our great state.

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JTB Hawaii president and CEO Tsukasa Harufuku (center) and JTB Corporation president and CEO Hiroyuki Takahashi (left) greet guests Oct. 1 during JTB Hawaii's 50th anniversary celebration at its new Travel Plaza in Waikiki PHOTOS COURTESY JTB HAWAII

This year, JTB Hawaii proudly celebrates its 50th anniversary as Hawaii’s leading global destination management company connecting travelers from around the world with the Aloha State. As the first Japanese travel company to establish a presence in the

Hawaiian Islands with the opening of our Honolulu office in October 1964, it is remarkable to reflect back on our beginnings and how much the industry has changed.

When we brought our first group of 23 Japanese visitors to Hawaii 50 years ago, the exchange rate was 300 yen per dollar and each traveler paid roughly $3,500. Putting that into perspective, that would equal more than $26,000 per person today. As you can imagine, travel back then was exclusive to Japan’s most affluent.

Today, JTB Hawaii brings more than 430,000 travelers from Japan to Hawaii annually, and we are working hard to extend our reach into other emerging markets, including China, Korea and Australia. This is part of our company’s mission to better serve the global travel community and expand the bridge between visitors and kamaaina.

As much as things have changed, however, some remain the same. As a responsible and caring corporate citizen, JTB Hawaii generously gives back to the travel industry and community-at-large through charitable contributions and sponsorship of signature events, including the popular Honolulu Festival, slated for March 6-8, 2015. We do this with the support of our 730 employees statewide because it is the right thing to do for the community.

In celebration of our golden anniversary, we have established an ongoing donation to University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Travel Industry Management and also created Hanabi Foundation to ensure the annual Nagaoka Hanabi fireworks show remains part of Honolulu Festival.

JTB Hawaii is here for the long run, and our company remains committed to Hawaii’s future and the wonderful people who call this place home. Here’s to another 50 great years together.