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By Agnes Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 14) – Micronesia retained its spot as the second most popular wedding destinations for Japanese tourists this honeymoon season, according to a recent survey by a major travel management company in Japan.

JTB Corporation revealed that Hawaii and Micronesia account for 80 percent of overseas wedding bookings by Japanese travelers for the period between October and December 2005. Most bookings are for Hawaii at 51.7 percent, followed by Micronesia at 31 percent.

No separate figures were provided for each Micronesian destination.

JTB’s survey showed that both Hawaii and Micronesia ranked the same as last year. Both destinations have also increased their market shares since last year. Hawaii posted an increase of 1.2 percent while Micronesia’s share went up by 2.2 percent, compared with the same period last year.

"Couples are choosing locations where they can be sure they will be able to hold their wedding with the same easy convenience as in Japan, including the wide selection of places for the ceremony, the dresses, the range of options, and the reception/party after the ceremony," JTB noted.

The other wedding destinations are Oceania, with a market share of 10 percent; Asia 4 percent; North America 2 percent; and Europe 1 percent.

JTB bookings also showed that most weddings this year were booked for November, followed by October and June.

"The idea of the ‘June Bride’ meant that June tended to be most popular in past years. However, this year’s bookings for October [or] November have already exceeded the total for June. It looks as if more weddings, like honeymoons, are being planned in autumn because of the ability to take longer breaks," JTB said.

The travel firm noted that there are more national holidays in Japan in autumn. This makes it easier for couples to take long breaks by combining them with paid holidays.

JTB also observed that more and more couples opt to have their weddings in chapels adjoining the reception or party site.

"Judging from LOOK JTB bookings, guests accompanying the couple number six or seven for Hawaii, and about ten in Micronesia. At both destinations, a high 50 to 60 percent go on to hold a party after the ceremony. This has meant that the ability to wear the wedding dress straight on to the wedding party is a decisive factor in choosing the site," JTB said.

Hawaii is also the top honeymoon destination for Japanese couples, holding 31 percent of the market.

Oceania ranks second with 23 percent, followed by Europe with 18 percent. North America and Micronesia each have a market share of 10 percent. Asia has the remaining 8 percent of the market.

JTB noted that North America has increased its popularity among honeymooners. The travel company attributed this to the fact that demand was now showing a health recovery from the drop caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

JTB also said that Disneyland honeymoons got a boost in light of the 50th anniversary of the Disneyland resort.

Another factor is the opening of the WIN Las Vegas hotel, which JTB described as "the main attention getter." Packages combining resorts with Cancun (Mexico) or Honolulu with cities like Las Vegas are popular, JTB said.

November 14, 2005

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

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