Hawaii tourists need to book rooms sooner
Strong demand has made it harder for visitors to find a hotel
Hawaii's tourism planners have long set their sights beyond domestic markets, but lately strong demand from the mainland has made that task more difficult.
"Basically, we've become a victim of our own success," said Frank Haas, director of marketing for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, following a preview yesterday at the Hawaii Convention Center of the state's international tourism marketing plans.
U.S. WEST DOMINATES
This is a breakdown of Hawaii's visitors last year:
Last year, Hawaii welcomed a record 7.5 million visitors, and more than 4.9 million of them were from the mainland. Strong demand and limited hotel rooms mean tourists, especially international ones, need to book much earlier, Haas said.
"Everybody is having the same problems," he said. "We need to shift our marketing to attract people who are willing to spend higher rates for hotel rooms and can book in advance."
Good prospects within each market include business travelers, honeymooners and bridal parties and older, more sophisticated travelers, who have plenty of time and money on their hands, he said.
For the first two months of the year, limited air seats, hotel rooms and higher prices have contributed to a softening in the Japan market, which supplies the bulk of Hawaii's international visitors, Haas said.
"Demand is still very strong, but we need to better educate travel professionals and visitors of the need to plan ahead," he said. "That's true of any market."
The jury is still out on whether the Japan market or other international markets will see growth in Hawaii in 2006, said Ryokichi Tamaki, vice president of marketing for Jalpak.
In 2005, the islands faced far less competition from other destinations due to a preponderance of natural disasters and safety issues around the globe.
2006 is going to be a difficult year for Hawaii because it is back in a competitive situation, Tamaki said. Competitors like Mexico, the Caribbean, Malaysia, Thailand and Florida are working hard to take back their market share.
"We were sitting in a tailwind situation, but now we'll have to use our engine to speed up," Tamaki said.