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Honolulu cranks up appeal to the City of Angels


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POSTED: Saturday, December 05, 2009

Even though the economic slump in Hawaii will push into 2010, the Oahu Visitors Bureau plans to nearly double its marketing stops with Los Angeles, the state's single largest source city for visitors, playing prominently in the lineup.

Representatives from the Oahu Visitors Bureau called on 21 cities this year; however, they have restructured their budget to call on about 40 primary markets in 2010, said Les Enderton, OVB executive director, at a marketing plan roll-out held yesterday at the Hawai'i Convention Center.

“;We are suffering. If your revenue is down 15 to 20 percent, it hurts,”; Enderton said. “;But we will get through this and prosper.”;

Since OVB's marketing plans for 2010 emphasize the U.S. and Japan markets, it is good news that their economies are improving and consumer confidence is rising, he said. Continental's decision to begin offering daily direct service from Orange County to Honolulu in March also will help boost arrivals, Enderton said.

OVB staff will visit Los Angeles in February and June to support Oahu's portion of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau blitz, which also stops in Seattle in January and San Francisco in March.

Jack E. Richards, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii's largest travel wholesaler, California-based Pleasant Holidays LLC, said he was pleased by the bureau's focus on Los Angeles and the U.S. West and rearranged his own marketing plans to coincide with them.

“;If you put all of Hawaii's markets together east of the Mississippi, they are not as large as the Los Angeles market,”; Richards said.

Through October, Los Angeles supplied Hawaii with 255,757 visitors, nearly 100,000 more visitors than San Francisco, the state's next largest source market.

“;They are spending money where it will get the most bang,”; Richards said.

The last blitz paid dividends for Pleasant Holidays and Hawaii, Richards said.

“;We saw an immediate increase in visitors from Los Angeles that lasted from September all the way into this year,”; he said.

While Richards does not expect to see Hawaii hoteliers recapture losses in 2010, he anticipates arrivals will increase, especially from core markets.

Hawaii also has benefited from Mexico's problems with the H1N1 influenza, drugs and gang violence, Richards said.

“;A lot of the airlines are deploying flights from Mexico and repositioning them in Hawaii,”; he said.

Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, OVB's senior director of advertising, said the bureau's strategy for 2010 puts resources where they will yield benefits.

“;It's about putting our money where we will be most efficient and effective,”; Schilling-Wheeler said. “;At the end of the day, we want to put heads on beds.”;

Next year the bureau also will call on Salt Lake City; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Tacoma and Issaquah, Wash.; Oakland, Long Beach and Westlake Village, Calif.; Boston; New York; Long Island and Farmingdale, N.Y.; Philadelphia; Wilkes-Barre and Bethlehem, Pa.; Atlanta; Houston; San Antonio; Chicago; Milwaukee; Detroit; Las Vegas; Phoenix; and Campbellsville, Ky.

OVB will stop in primary international markets like Japan and in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada. Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany and the United Kingdom will remain secondary markets for OVB in 2010.