2016 has already been an extremely volatile year for global stock markets. That’s raised some questions about economic strength in the Asia Pacific—and particularly in three countries that are crucial for Hawai‘i’s tourism market. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
Japan, Canada and Australia are the three biggest international sources for travelers to Hawai‘i, and each has been hit by market turmoil. Last week was the worst one for Japan’s broad Topix stock index since the global recession of 2008. Japanese exporters have been hurt by the strengthening yen… a trend that makes Japanese products more expensive overseas - although at the same time, it brings down the cost of a Hawai‘i vacation for Japanese consumers.
But an uncertain economy could be a negative factor for travel. The number of visitors coming to Hawai‘i from Canada dropped slightly last year. Canada is technically in a recession now—back to back quarters of a shrinking economy.
Falling oil prices have hurt—and despite a rebound on Friday, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index is down nearly 20% over the past year—bear market territory. Falling commodity prices have also stalled growth in Australia—where the stock market has suffered similar declines, with an added twist. Exports of raw materials to China boosted Australia’s growth in recent years, now China’s slowdown has crippled demand and while it has not pushed the country into recession, it leaves the economic outlook highly uncertain.