Maui ads wooing romance market
The wedding and honeymoon trade has fallen off statewide
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Maui tourism officials and partners are trying to rekindle their romance with the lucrative destination wedding and honeymoon market.
Maui Visitors Bureau unveiled its new tourism campaign yesterday, entitled Romance Me Maui. The campaign comes at a time when the romance market across all islands has weakened.
According to the latest state data, prospective wedding and honeymoon travelers still look fondly upon Hawaii, but aren't booking as many trips here.
Still, those who do are most enamored by Maui, and tourism officials want to keep it that way.
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Maui tourism officials and their partners want to woo more couples into saying "I do" on the Valley Isle.
The Maui Visitors Bureau yesterday rolled out its newest marketing campaign: Romance Me Maui.
Maui has long been rated as one of America's top romantic destinations in travel polls, but the campaign comes at a time when the romance market across all islands has weakened.
According to the latest state data, prospective wedding and honeymoon travelers still look fondly upon Hawaii. They just aren't booking as many trips here.
Still, those who do are most enamored by Maui, and Valley Isle officials want to keep it that way.
For the past three years, the bulk of licenses for out-of-state weddings have been issued in Maui, said State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert.
"Maui is the top destination wedding market across all islands, and this campaign will reiterate that," Wienert said. "It will also benefit the entire state because the romance market yields high economic gains."
In romance, timing is everything, and Maui's campaign couldn't have been planned better, Wienert said.
According to demand surveys, Hawaii remains top of mind with lovers. But the honeymoon market has risen a scant 1.6 percent year to date, and the wedding market has fallen by 9.8 percent through September, Wienert said.
"There's plenty of demand, but we haven't been closing all of the sales -- especially from the domestic side," she said.
Hawaii's domestic honeymoon market was down 5.5 percent through September, although the international market was up 12.7 percent, Wienert said.
Maui's campaign is designed to rekindle the top-selling romance of the islands, said Teryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau.
"We're constantly watching trends and destination weddings are very big right now and so are honeymoons and vow renewals," Vencl said. "We want to capture this market because it's a market that keeps coming back to visit long after the event."
Lanai, particularly the Four Seasons, has seen an uptick in family travel as a result of the strength of its romance market in previous years, said Waynette Ho-kwon, director for the Lanai Visitors Bureau.
"We're finding that our earlier honeymooners or wedding couples are returning to visit and bringing their families," Ho-Kwon said. "This is a good market to invest in because the returns keep coming back."
The strength of Maui's romance market has allowed Asa Ige of Asa Flowers and fashion designer Maggie Coulombe to expand their businesses, they said.
"About 90 percent of my business is destination weddings," Ige said of the flower shop that he opened in 1996.
Although overall wedding business might be down on Maui, Ige hasn't seen a lull in his operations, which has grown from a one-man-shop to employ as many as seven designers, he said.
"We see growth every year, but I don't think Maui has even begun to reach its peak as a wedding destination," said Ige.
Patrick Callarec, owner Chez Paul Restaurant Francais, agrees with Ige's assessment of Maui's potential.
"'The romance market is huge on Maui," Callarec said. "There are probably 80 weddings a day in Maui and it seems like more and more people are getting married -- that's good because we depend on this market. If it weren't for romance, I wouldn't have too many people in the restaurant."
As much as 90 percent of Coulombe's business is wedding or romance related, she said.
Number of weddings where the bride and groom were non-residents:
Source: Department of Health