HTA boosts marketing


POSTED: Friday, June 05, 2009

The Hawaii Tourism Authority beefed up its competitive effort yesterday by approving a $71.4 million budget for fiscal year 2010 that puts 86 percent of its dollars into marketing.

The new budget, which is $60,000 below the prior-year level, includes $51.4 million in designated marketing funds and reallocates an additional $10 million into a marketing opportunity fund for emergencies.

It's been a dismal year for Hawaii's long-suffering visitor industry, which has seen both visitor counts and spending drop at unprecedented levels.

So far this year, some 272,115 fewer visitors have come to the islands and have spent about $12.90 per day less than visitors did during the same period last year, which equates to $677.2 million in lost revenues for Hawaii, said HTA President and Chief Executive Mike McCartney.

That's on top of the $1.2 billion in spending that Hawaii lost last year, said state Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert.

“;Our situation is critical,”; McCartney said.

While Hawaii's visitor arrivals peaked at 7.6 million in 2007, they are expected to decline to 6.41 million by the end of this year, said Daniel Nahoopii, the Tourism Research Branch chief for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Visitor arrivals are projected to grow to 6.48 million in 2010, but McCartney said he wants to see them stabilize at 6.7 million.

The new budget aims to bring up visitor counts by pumping more money into marketing while maintaining a focus on creating a quality visitor experience, he said.

Before the budget was approved, hoteliers, retailers and other members of Hawaii's visitor industry were already panhandling for funds. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which markets North America, received approval yesterday to spend $2 million of the marketing opportunity fund by the end of the year on a blitz designed to bring more visitors from Seattle; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Portland, Ore. The HVCB also is working on promotions that target markets where visitors are more likely to respond quickly, said David Uchiyama, HTA's vice president of tourism marketing.

“;They are looking at spending from $700,000 to $1 million per market in a blitz effort similar to the smiles campaign that they used to target San Francisco earlier this year,”; Uchiyama said.

The earlier blitz was so successful that California wholesalers reported call volume and online visitors went up, he said.

“;Some of them are still getting residual effects,”; Uchiyama said.

Barbara Campbell, vice president of retail services and leasing for Outrigger Enterprises Group, said the 300-plus businesses that she represents have seen declines ranging from 20 to 60 percent.

“;We need to help these businesses get through these difficult times,”; Campbell said.

There are costs associated with the HTA's budget changes. Notable cuts to the 2009 budget include taking away $500,000 from Japan leisure marketing and removing $200,000 each from leisure marketing in Oceania and Other Asia. The Hawai'i Convention Center also lost $500,000 in business marketing funds.

Funds from lost sporting events such as the Hawaii Pro Bowl and some of the PGA tour stops freed up more than $4.6 million.

Personnel changes and cutbacks at the HTA reduced administration services by $100,000.

The board also slashed another $25,000 from product development, which supports projects such as the Waikiki Improvement Association's hula mound and torch-lighting service.

The state's Keep It Hawaii Program, a Hawaiian culture recognition program, lost $35,000.

And, HTA cut its work-force development programs by $100,000, reducing efforts to train hospitality workers in Korean, Chinese and Japanese language and culture.




Dividing the pie

        The Hawaii Tourism Authority approved its fiscal year 2010 budget yesterday. Here's a look at how it funded each major source market:


Market FY 2010 budgetVariance
North America$22.63 millionN/C
Japan$7.31 million-$500,000
Other Asia$1.52 million-$200,000
Hawai'i Convention Center$6 million-$500,000
Conventions, meetings, incentive$2.76 millionN/C
Total budget$71.5 million-$60,000



N/C: no change