Different markets,
1 strategy: attract spenders

Hawaii's global tourism marketing plans come in a variety of packages, but the overall focus is the same.

"We need to attract more visitors who will stay longer and spend larger amounts of disposable income on their trips," said Rex Johnson, executive director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Tourism marketing plans for Hawaii's key visitor markets, which were unveiled yesterday at the conclusion of a local tourism conference, emphasized diversity -- both of Hawaii's culture and the state's approach to how that message should be sold.

Some of the highlights:

>> Dentsu Inc., the largest advertising agency in Japan, plans to continue targeting Japanese families, seniors and wedding travelers -- as opposed to shoppers -- and encouraging visitors to think of Hawaii as an exciting place, with multiple islands. Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele virtuoso, will stay on as spokesperson for Dentsu's Six Islands, Six Surprises campaign.

>> The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, responsible for promoting Hawaii to its largest market, North America, plans to focus efforts on so-called gateway cities, such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle. The bureau also plans to emphasize Hawaii's golf, arts and culture, and focus on the lucrative East Coast market, said Jay Talwar, vice president of marketing for HVCB.

>> Hawaii's visitor arrivals from Europe, Australia and New Zealand have dropped dramatically in the last decade, but the travel industry says conditions are right to see improved performance. A weakened dollar, increased airlift and more focused marketing are expected to increase visitor arrivals and boost economic performance from these regions, assuming there are no more global disasters.

>> New visa policies implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have raised major barriers to U.S. travel from Korea, China and Taiwan, resulting in a 5 percent drop in travel to the United States, said Michael D. Merner, managing director of Hawaii Tourism Asia, a subsidiary of Marketing Garden Ltd. Meanwhile, travel out of the Asian markets this year is booming: Travel out of China has surpassed that of Japan; travel out of Korea is projected to surge to about 8 million; and travel from Taiwan has fully recovered from SARS.

"Asia is the world's fastest growing travel market, and given this enormous growth in outbound travel from Asia, we need to position Hawaii to capture as much of this market as possible," Merner said.

Hawaii Tourism Authority



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