HTA to split marketing across five companies

The Hawai`i Tourism Authority announced today that for the first time, it will negotiate with several companies to market Hawai`i in specific regional markets rather than assigning worldwide rights to the Hawai`i Visitors and Convention Bureau. Nonetheless, the HVCB will receive the lion’s share, enlisted to handle North America as well as business travel marketing globally. The HVCB recently came under fire in a legislative audit, and its president and CEO resigned on Tuesday.

Although HTA president Rex Johnson acknowledged the HVCB’s history of successful marketing efforts, he also said the HVCB contract “will provide continuity for the North American marketing program while the Hawaii Tourism Authority completes its investigation of the issues raised in the recent state auditor’s report.”

The HTA’s regional approach was in the works before the recent HVCB controversy. The vendor selection process began in March, garnering 13 bids six of them from Japan — and the HTA heard oral presentations in June.

“We wanted to compare our traditional approach — assigning one marketing contract for global activity — to a new way of looking at the world as distinct and individual markets,” he said. “The international markets, especially Japan, have presented us with unique challenges that call for new approaches.”

Visitor traffic from Japan, one of the major drivers of the Hawai`i economy, has been in a slump, while tourism from the U.S. has recently seen a notable increase.

The winning agencies are:

The HTA will now start negotiations with the selected agencies for the board’s final approval, with marketing contracts to commence January 1, 2004.

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