Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, June 11, 1999

Hey Ben, pick me!

EVERY once in a while the right guy is around at the right time for the right job. Which is why Hawaii Tourism Authority should put me on the board.

Hotel exec Diane Quitiquit was named chairman of the tourism board this week. Gov. Ben Cayetano will appoint someone to fill the vacancy left when Quitiquit stepped up. That somebody should be me, Ben. And not just because I was your most loyal supporter in the last election and, by the way, did I say how wise you've been looking lately. Thinner, too. That was a dirty, rotten thing those state senators did to your Attorney General. I'm with you, buddy. Smack them buggers around with a few vetoes and show them who's boss.

Anyway, the Hawaii Tourism Authority has always been top heavy with business people. What it needs is an outsider. A visionary. A dreamer. Someone whose mind is not shackled by traditional concepts of marketing. Me, for instance.

Ms. Quitiquit, first of all, just let me say that that is a lovely name. And if I get on the board, I promise never to quiti quit. I'll work hard, bring a fresh perspective and take off-island trips only when necessary, like during Super Bowl Week and maybe for the Kentucky Derby. The thing is, I've been indirectly working for the tourism authority all this time. My column has been a veritable mother lode of tourism ideas. Sure, some of them sound kind of nutty at first. But they grow on you, like seaweed.

FOR instance, everyone thought I was nuts when I suggested building the Hawaii Convention Center in Las Vegas. After all, Vegas is closer to most groups who want to hold conventions. Building costs are lower. And having conventioneers meet in Vegas would have saved a lot of wear and tear on Hawaii. Everyone laughed. But now, the governor -- a man of great foresight -- is suggesting building prisons on the mainland because it would be cheaper. And there's even been talk of Hawaii building a casino in Las Vegas

Casino? Convention Center? What's the diff? Another idea I had to spur tourism was to produce snow shovels with a nice picture of Diamond Head on them, complete with a toll-free phone number to reach tour packagers and a web address. We could give the snow shovels away in places like Montana and Detroit. Some poor stiff is out there working up a heart attack shoveling snow when he sees the beautiful picture of Diamond Head and the words: "Warmth and Aloha Is Only A Few Hours Away." Brilliant, huh?

I also suggest buying advertising on Zambonis, those machines that clean ice rinks. It's a better idea than putting an advertisement on a dragster, which Hawaii actually did. Dragsters move too fast for ads to be seen!

Then there was my idea to airdrop luaus into parts of the country that are enjoying sudden prosperity. Like that little town on the mainland that won a multi-million court case. Suddenly everyone in town was rich. We should have dropped a luau right onto Main Street and had a 727 jet waiting at the neighborhood airport ready to whisk those folks to the islands. I call it the Luau Tactical Strike Force concept. Have luau, will travel.

I've had tons of ideas over the years. I can't even remember them right now. But if I were on the tourism board, I'd go back and dig them all up. Oh, yeah, I just remembered another one. We can't have a lottery here. But why not make free trips to Hawaii a part of every state lottery? For the cost of 40 or so trips to Hawaii a year, we'd get tons of publicity. Man, I've got so many ideas that I've been giving away for free. Governor, put me on the board. You need me. Did I mention how elegant your wife looked on TV the other day?

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

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