Thursday, September 16, 1999

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

HVCB lands
$114 million
marketing contract

The tourism agency also
is bidding for a pact to
promote the convention center

By Russ Lynch


The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau will continue to market the islands as a tourist destination for the next three years, in a $38 million-a-year contract to be awarded by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The only other bidder for the work, Japanese advertising agency Dentsu Inc., was earlier deemed not qualified because it submitted an advertising program but not the fully integrated worldwide marketing program the HTA specifications required.

Tony Vericella, president and chief executive officer of the HVCB, called the HTA board's unanimous approval "just a great vote of confidence."

Meeting in a board room at the Hawaii Convention Center yesterday afternoon, the HTA board heard an HVCB presentation behind closed doors and voted afterward in a short public meeting.

Board member Shari Chang, head of the HTA's marketing committee, said it was the first time that a bidding process -- open to all who wanted to make a proposal -- was used to select Hawaii's tourism marketer.

Details of the $114 million contract have yet to be finalized but the HVCB is ready to press on with its marketing plans, Vericella said.

"This is the first time we will have a multiple-year contract," he said. Historically, the HVCB had to go to the Legislature every year for funding, which usually came with strings attached.

The bureau was required to spend some of the budget, sometimes as much as half of it, to promote legislators' favorite events.

When the HTA was formed a year ago, it was guaranteed funding, as a percentage of the hotel room tax, without having to go to the Legislature for it.

The HVCB is also a bidder for a separate $6 million-a-year HTA contract to market the convention center. The HTA said it expects to hear presentations from the bidders in mid-October.

Vericella said the HVCB was started as a small tourism promotion organization in 1892.

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