New marketing pacts
seen fueling tourism

Judging from Hawaii's first-quarter tourism indicators, it's been a very strong year for the visitor industry, and officials have said more good times are coming if the state's marketing methods continue to reach all consumers.

Driven by record-breaking visitor arrivals and a rebounding Japanese market, Hawaii led the nation in hotel occupancy during the first quarter. The state's tourism industry also experienced visitor growth from Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and Europe.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is targeting 7.9 percent growth in visitor spending this year, to reach a record total $11.3 billion. The authority also has forecast 14 percent growth in Japanese visitor arrivals, following years of declines from that mark.

"We're in a recovery growth period, " said Frank Haas, HTA's vice president of tourism marketing. "We are moving into good times as we recover from some of the bumps. But long-term success relies on getting the right messages out."

At the end of last year, the HTA changed the way it gets that message out by voting to split the state's tourism marketing contracts, stripping the century-old Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau of about 29 percent of its state funding.

The HVCB, which is responsible for attracting visitors from Hawaii's tourism stronghold, North America, now has statewide contract totaling $22.1 million for leisure marketing, including $10.2 million that goes to its island visitors bureaus. That represents 69 percent of the total $32 million in state leisure marketing funds provided by the HTA.

Dentsu Inc., Japan's largest advertising agency and Hawaii's new Japanese tourism marketer, has a $7.5 million contract with the state. The Mangum Group, which markets to Europe, has a $770,000 contract, while the company that markets to other Asian countries, Japan-based Marketing Garden Ltd., has a $950,000 contract. The Walshe Group of New Zealand also has a $600,000 contract to attract visitors from Oceania.

But while the messengers have changed, the message is still the same, said Jay Talwar, vice president of marketing for the HVCB. The focus of all campaigns is to highlight Hawaii's natural beauty, diversity of experiences and wonderful people , Talwar said.

When people come to Hawaii, they want to interact with kamaainas and get a sense of the spirit of Aloha, he said.

"We looked at over 100 different destination ads and TV commercials and we realized that even Detroit looks beautiful at the right time of the year with the right photographers," Talwar said.


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