Thursday, June 28, 2001

Tourism Authority
opens purse strings

In all, agency OKs $1.2 million
for a host of tourist activities

By Russ Lynch

The Hawaii Tourism Authority yesterday decided to spend $1.2 million in the fiscal year that starts Sunday to support a wide range of activities across the state that it believes will help attract tourists.

The 52 budget items ranged from as much as $100,000 each for a University of Hawaii at Hilo educational tourism project and Kauai County festivals program to as little as $5,000 to help develop a Big Island Web site that will inform visitors about agriculture on the Hamakua Coast.

In a special meeting, the authority's board also approved an expenditure of up to $24,000 for a private consultancy, Market Trends Pacific Inc., to conduct a telephone survey of Hawaii residents to find out how they feel about tourism and how they are affected by it. It will be an extension of a survey that was done in 1999, with new questions.

A committee of the HTA earlier had screened dozens of requests for funds and recommended approval of as much as 100 percent of some amounts requested and as low as 20 percent of others. The projects are in the category the HTA calls "product development" -- mainly shows, cultural events and other activities that the authority expects will add to the kind of image of Hawaii it believes will encourage tourists to come back for more and attract visitors who have never been to the islands.

The HTA has $61 million to spend in each fiscal year, money drawn directly from the hotel room tax, but the majority of it goes to its main marketing contractor, the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau.

The HTA deferred decisions on all but one of a list of $500,000 worth of business destination marketing proposals, which it said were preliminary and needed refining. The one that did get approved was $75,000 to support Prime/2001, a fourth annual Hawaii meetings industry "business exchange" conference scheduled for September.

Support approved for projects in the "product development" category include $50,000 for the Hawaii International Jazz Festival, taking place July 19-22; $25,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which will offer a one-day community affair in September for local and visiting children and their families to learn about voyaging canoes; $20,000 for the World Invitational Hula Festival in Honolulu in November; and $10,000 for a Hawaiian music series at the Hawaii Theatre in October, organized by the Native Hawaiian Tourism & Hospitality Association.

The Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce gets $15,000 to help with educational tourism, including a show in Japan. The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival gets $25,000.

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