Hawaii is Searching for Mindful Tourists from Europe


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Hawaii Tourism Authority is taking applications from European marketing agencies to search for responsible travelers to the Aloha State.

Under the current leadership, the Hawaii Tourism Authority turned from a tourism promotion board into a tourism authority that focuses on changing visitors’ behavior. HTA wants tourists to be culturally interested, educated, mindful, and rich.

Many in the travel business feel Hawaii Tourism Authority must be the only tourism office in the world that is anti-tourism, fighting overtourism and rejecting those that want to party, eat and go to the beach.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority under the directive of CEO Jon de Fries has also become the most silent state-funded agency in Hawaii, avoiding contact with media such as eTurboNews by all means.

Every tourist destination in the world likes to have high-spending visitors. Hawaii is no exception, but for the most part luxury hotels and resorts expected by those high-spending visitors are very rare on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Molokai, but dominant by the Four Seasons Resort on the island of Lanai, the private island.

However, the demand for travel to Hawaii is rising and perhaps seen as a problem by HTA. A motel-type resort, such as the Westin Vacation Club in Princeville Kauai can charge $900 for a night and gets away with it.

HTA changed the way Hawaii is marketing the State. Hawaiian words hardly anyone understands or speaks sound exotic.

Announcements in the Hawaiian language at the airports, marketing brochures, and marketing websites indicate a Hawaii uses a different direction to market its Pacific Island destination.

Nothing wrong with being different. Nothing wrong with preferring visitors that are mindful of the environment or the Hawaiian culture.

However many visitors enjoying time away from the stress in their home region travel to Waikiki to shop, to eat, and to party. Having a good time on the beach is more important for them than thinking about what country, state, or culture they are in.

A good time and feeling welcome, such as the famous Aloha spirit is making all the difference.

A Cultural experience for those that want to skip a day on the beach means the Polynesian Culture Center or a Luau (BBQ and lots of Mai Tais) – not anything authentic.

Such visitors do spend money, some go to the Ala Moana Shopping Mall. These are the majority of visitors.

Tourism is a business and the Hawaiian Tourism Authority under native Hawaiian leadership wants tourism to become more of a cultural exchange and experience. Tourism has a responsibility and touches the entire economy on the islands. It’s the biggest business in the State of Hawaii and benefits everyone, native Hawaiians and the majority non-Hawaiian population.

Therefore only concentrating on the protection of the Aina is great but may discourage visitors at the same time. It doesn’t take much to go from a tourism boom to a tourism vacuum. Over the years this has been a painful reality in this tourism-dependent US State.

Currently, most hotels are expensive and full, and planes are at capacity, but the competition is not sleeping.

More non-stops to the Caribbean from the US West Coast is a first sign. Japanese preferring Thailand or Bali over Hawaii is a clear indication.

Luxury all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica that cost half of a 3-star hotel in Hawaii are a reality. Sierra Leone is seeing its beaches as African Hawaii.

European travelers are more culturally interested and stay longer. For most Europeans, Hawaii remains an exotic dream destination. European travelers are active, not really shoppers, but they like authentic experiences and don’t always need five-star resorts.

Europeans flying all the way to Hawaii are different from those vacationing in Spain. They like the experience part of a trip, and these are not the beaches alone.

European stay weeks and not days such as Americans or Japanese do. This may however be unrealistic based on the current price structure in Hawaii.

source: eTN