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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (April 24, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Guam's popularity among Japanese springtime honeymooners has surged, according to a new survey that ranked the island as No. 3 -- from No. 11 last year -- on a list of top 20 popular ''cities'' for such vacation travelers.

Tokyo-based travel agency JTB Corp. surveyed travel trends among Japanese honeymooners this spring, which led to its ranking of Honolulu as No. 1 and Las Vegas as No. 2 most popular city destinations overseas for Japan's newlyweds.

A Guam neighbor to the north, Saipan, also made it to the list, placing 19th, which also is an improvement from its No. 38 position last year, according to the JTB ranking.

Lower costs and closer proximity to home are among the reasons that more Japanese honeymooners prefer Guam or Saipan, the survey found.

On Guam or in Saipan, the average spending per honeymooning couple is $1,383, excluding wedding expenses, the survey said. A couple will spend $2,550, on average, for a honeymoon in Hawai‘i, $3,217 on the mainland United States and $5,300 in Europe, according to the survey.

Many Japanese honeymooners, particularly in the Tokyo area, also choose Guam or Saipan because they only need to stay about four days, compared with farther destinations where they stay for about seven days, according to the survey.

The survey also said that the number of Japanese holding overseas weddings has increased by 35 percent this year over the previous year.

Hawai‘i is the most popular destination for overseas weddings followed by Guam/Saipan, the survey said.

An average of six people accompany a Japanese couple who get married overseas, the survey said.

The survey covered 2,679 couples whose bookings at 12 JTB offices in Japan were for travel during March through May this year.

The bureau has been conducting the survey twice every year since 1969 to determine honeymoon trends for spring and autumn.

Some Guam hotels aiming to capture more of the Japanese honeymoon/wedding market have invested in the construction of quaint, mostly stand-alone wedding chapels with an ocean view.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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