ALLISON SCHAEFERS / ASCHAEFERS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Suraphon Svetasreni, deputy governor of Thailand, will visit Hawaii this month to help groups learn how to plan festivals and events. Above, dancers engaged in ram Thai, a traditional cultural art, during a festival in the small town of Lopburi, Thailand, last summer. CLICK FOR LARGE
Hawaii looks to Thailand for festival marketing tips
The Hawaii Tourism Authority hopes to boost interest in local culture and events
The Hawaii Tourism Authority is promoting Hawaii festivals and events as part of a campaign to improve visitor and resident satisfaction scores and boost tourism outside of the sun, sand and surf venue.
As part of the push, the HTA is bringing in experts from Thailand and Canada this month to host a series of seminars to help tourism officials and organizations spotlight Hawaii's culture through events.
Coinciding with the seminars is HTA's "Festivals of Hawaii" campaign, which provides additional advertising to increase awareness of Hawaii's festivals
Thailand, a destination long popular with the North American and Japan markets in part because of its cultural festivals, is lending its expertise to help Hawaii's visitor industry put its own festival and events market on the map.
As part of a campaign to improve visitor and resident satisfaction scores and to boost tourism outside the sun, sand and surf venue, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is promoting Hawaii's festivals and events.
The state's cultural assets are a draw for tourists and coincide with tourism trends that focus on defining destinations by historical and cultural aspects, said Muriel A. Anderson, director of tourism programs.
"We know from our research that visitors enjoy getting to know cultural aspects of Hawaii beyond the sun, sand and surf," Anderson said. "But they don't necessarily come to Hawaii to attend festivals and events. We want to follow the example set by Thailand and turn this market into a draw for the visitor industry."
Building a solid festival and events market would also boost Hawaii's visitor industry's popularity with residents, she said.
"Of all activities related to Hawaii's visitor industry, residents like festivals best," Anderson said.
Thailand's Deputy Governor Suraphon Svetasreni will visit Hawaii in a few weeks to help lead a series of statewide seminars designed to assist Hawaii groups in planning festivals and events and building partnerships and alliances.
He will be joined by other national and international experts including: Canada's National Capital Commission's Vice President Guy Laflamme; Penny Reeh, owner of Indigo Resource Group, a national expert on festivals and event planning; and Steve Schmader, president and chief executive officer of the International Festival and Events Association; plus local panelists on media, operations, branding and development.
The seminars will begin May 22 at the Hawaii Convention Center on Oahu. Seminars will also be held for Hawaii County on May 23 at the Fairmont Orchid on the Koala Coast ; Maui County on May 24 at the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort; and Kauai County on May 25 at the Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue.
Annually, HTA supports more than 60 festivals throughout the state by providing more than $2 million in funding, said Rex Johnson, HTA president and chief executive officer. Hawaiian history and traditions, music, hula and agriculture are significant attractions for visitors, he said.
"We are famous for our festivals, which provide an opportunity for visitors to experience our way of life while interacting with residents," Johnson said. "We want to be able to assist these organizations on how to successfully seek sponsors, build brand identity and effectively market their events."
Coinciding with the upcoming seminars is HTA's "Festivals of Hawaii" campaign, which provides additional advertising to increase awareness of Hawaii's festivals to post-arrival visitors as well as residents.
"Festivals of Hawaii" includes events such as the Aloha Festivals, a 60-year-old statewide celebration that preserves Hawaiian traditions, and Maui's International Festival of Canoes, which links Hawaii's heritage with Polynesia and features an annual lineup of master carvers and artisans from Polynesia and the Pacific Rim.
For information or to register, call Eileen Osakoda or Alan Ellis at OmniTrak Group Inc. at (808) 528-4050 or visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
» A story on Hawaii Tourism Authority seminars on Page C2 in yesterday's morning edition misspelled the last names of Penny Reeh, Steve Schmader and Eileen Osakoda. Additionally, the company handling reservations for the seminars is Omnitrak Group, not Moniteau Group. The contact phone, (808) 528-4050, was correct as printed.