The voice for Hawaii tourism speaks

Hawaii is all over the media these days.  Not one, not two, but three television shows are currently being filmed on its main island of Oahu.  Within the past few months, it was also the chosen location for blockbuster feature films like “First 50 Dates” featuring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, as well as “Dragonfly” starring Kevin Costner.  It also does not hurt to know that two islanders made it to the finals of the immensely-popular television show “American Idol” with one advancing week after week to make it into the Final Three. 

Given this, we figured that it was time to talk to somebody about Hawaii tourism.  Our pick?  Marsha Wienert.  Marsha’s business card states that she is the Tourism Liaison for Hawaii.  So naturally, eTN caught up with her to find out how Hawaii tourism is doing and what her job title entails.

The best year in Hawaii tourism. Make no mistake about it.  Hawaii is experiencing a surge in tourism demand.  One only needs to look at its jam-packed airports, or its sold-out hotel rooms to know this.

“In looking at the US economy, it’s doing well.  Pent-up demand, people choosing to stay within the US.  Hawaii perceived to be international in nature though still part of the US,” said Wienert.

“Largest international market still remains to be Japan, whose economy is improving, they are traveling again.”

“During the summer months, put these elements together and Hawaii tourism is going to be better than it has ever been.”

Hawaii tourism, according to Wienert, will not only focus on the number of tourists that visit Hawaii, rather much of the focus will be shifted towards efforts to get tourists to do two things—stay longer and spend more. 

Wienert pointed out that Hawaii does not have the inventory to accommodate growth from the current numbers.  The tourism chief recognizes that Hawaii has grown to full capacity land-wise and does not have the inventory to accommodate more.

However, she pointed out that Hawaii’s growth will come from the cruise industry.    “The ‘Pride of Aloha’ cruise ship can take 2000 passengers, so that is where the growth is going to come from in terms of numbers.  It’s going to come from the cruise industry,” said Wienert.

According to Wienert, Hawaii is seeing growth from various parts of the US, namely the US east.  She said that there is not only an increase in US east visitors, but they are staying longer and spending more when they do visit Hawaii. 

Who is who in Hawaii tourism
“This position was created to be the communicator and coordinator between the visitor industry [the product] and the state government [Dept. of Labor, Dept. of Transportation, Land and Natural Resources – Parks, Harbors, and the Executive Branch],” said Wienert when asked to clarify her function in the whole Hawaii tourism scheme.

Wienert recognized that it is good to address the confusion, as there is the quasi-government organization Hawaii Tourism Authority, whose task involves facilitating and implementing marketing programs, and there is the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, who is responsible for marketing Hawaii in the North American region.

“Hawaii Tourism Authority is an attached government agency, but not a department of government,” clarified Wienert, who added that HTA can set policies and contract with various marketers.

HVCB used to handle the marketing of Hawaii worldwide.  Since the HVCB shake-up a year ago, Wienert said significant changes have been made.  HTA has awarded several contracts to implement marketing programs to a specific market region.  Dentsu Inc. is in-charge of the Japan market, Marketing Garden, Inc. for Asia (except Japan), The Mangum Group for Europe, and The Walshe Group Ltd. for Oceania. 

“The Board at HTA, which I am a member of, then sets the direction and the goal for each of the marketing areas.  HTA then oversees all that to make sure that they are implementing strategic plans to meet those goals,” said Wienert.

Wienert noted that HVCB has performed exceptionally well and that it is possible for them to submit a proposal and win marketing representation for Hawaii in all markets once the four-year contracts are over. 

eTN Honolulu
author: Nelson Alcantara

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