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HVCB ad blitz targets LA


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POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2009

Visitor arrivals from North America, whose recent rebound led to the first overall increase in tourists to Hawaii last month since February 2008, are expected to be further bolstered by a $3 million campaign that begins next week in Los Angeles.

The monthlong blitz, called “;Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smile,”; was slated to be presented this morning by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to members of Hawaii's visitor industry. And, of all marketing presentations scheduled for presentation today at the Hawai'i Convention Center, this one might be the most likely to convert demand into short-term bookings for the historically lean fall and winter.

With overall visitor arrivals to Hawaii down 8.2 percent through July and spending down 16 percent, visitors from nearby California and the U.S. West region appear to hold the key to recovery.

Competition for the U.S. East market from the Caribbean and drive-to destinations remains fierce. The Japanese and European economies are still down. Swine flu, especially if it strengthens, could continue to impede Asian arrivals.

While Japan is expected to remain flat next year and the U.S. East is expected to continue declining, arrivals from the U.S. West are targeted to grow 4.4 percent to 2.8 million. Hawaii's visitor industry expects China, South Korea and Oceania to fill longer-term gaps. They are expected to grow in 2010 along with every market except the U.S. East and Europe.

But for now the Los Angeles-blitz is so crucial that it represents about 10 percent of the HVCB's marketing budget and has gained the commitment of all county mayors to join state and county tourism officials as they promote Hawaii travel to the state's largest source market. The campaign will include print, broadcast, online and electric billboard advertising and social networking events, cooking demonstrations and live performances.

“;This is a big, concentrated campaign in our foremost market with a view towards stimulating travel to Hawaii as we approach the fall and winter seasons,”; said John Monahan, HVCB's president and chief executive officer. “;We are using an integrated strategy that produced good results in the Bay Area earlier this year, and we are confident it can be repeated successfully in Los Angeles.”;

While Los Angeles has been hard hit by the housing crisis and economic slump, HVCB said it was not dissuaded.

“;It's still a huge core market for us,”; said Jay Talwar, HVCB's senior vice president of marketing. “;There are 14 million people living in greater Los Angeles. We don't want them all.”;

The HVCB's Bay Area campaign closely followed the U.S. financial market collapse; however, just one month after, Hawaii saw a 7 percent increase in arrivals from the targeted region, Monahan said. Airline load factors improved as well, he said.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who participated in the San Francisco blitz debut, said he would join again because it benefited Hawaii.

“;We all know how important the industry is to our economy, and we know that we are more effective leaders when we work toward a common goal,”; Hannemann said.

Among the other notables joining the festivities this year are chef Jon Matsubara of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel's Azure; Grammy Award-winning musician George Kahumoku; culinary expert and author Joan Namkoong; cultural specialist Celine Pi'ilani Nelsen; Miss Aloha Hula Malia Peterson; and entertainers from Kawailanamalie Productions and the Polynesian Cultural Center.