VISITORS to Hawaii travelling via Tokyo's Narita International Airport will soon be able to clear US immigration and customs procedures in Japan, leaving them free to start their holiday as soon as they touch down.
Reports have said that the US Department of Homeland Security will extend its customs preclearance operations to 10 new airports including Narita, though a launch date has not been announced.
Reacting to the news, Yasuhiko Hoshii, a spokesman for Japanese travel giant HIS, said: “The Hawaii market is pretty good for us at the moment as fewer travellers are choosing to go to China or South Korea due to political reasons.”
“Hawaii is always in the top five destinations for HIS and we're putting more emphasis on the islands this year…If customs and immigration procedures are made easier, then we know our clients would welcome that," he added.
The Japan Association of Travel Agents echoed that view on behalf of its members, with spokeswoman Eiko Sato telling TTG Asia e-Daily: "Japanese travel companies had long hoped that preclearance would be introduced and this move is welcomed by the industry.”
Sato hoped that preclearance would also be expanded to other Japanese airports at the soonest possible.
In a statement, Hawaii Tourism Authority described the decision as "great news for Hawaii's visitor industry” given that Japan is its largest international market.
“Since Narita Airport is a major international hub for other countries in Asia, preclearance at Narita could also help to stimulate growth from other markets that transit through Japan,” it said.