Club Wed

A sizeable number of visitors to Hawaii are honeymooners

By: Marty Wentzel

Modern Bride magazine annually polls travel agents on their clients’ favorite honeymoon destinations. And for six years running, Hawaii has topped the list beating out Mexico, Jamaica and Tahiti. Small wonder, then, that visitor bureaus around the state are ardently courting just-marrieds, whom they see as a profitable market.

Oahu Visitors Bureau sales and marketing director, Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, said that 8.6 percent of Oahu’s total visitors in 2001 were honeymooners. “This is an important segment for us, one that we’re aggressively marketing,” she said. “Honeymooners are a lucrative sale, and they can become a part of a travel agency’s permanent database, if they’re serviced correctly.”

Like bureaus on all the major islands, the Oahu bureau advertises in bridal magazines.

“We also work with travel agents and wholesalers to target honeymooners,” said Schilling-Wheeler. “We collaborate closely with our destination specialists on strategic marketing efforts from participation in bridal shows across the country to the creation of an agency’s honeymoon web pages.”

On Maui, nonresident marriages have tripled over the past 10 years, according to state Department of Health statistics.

The Maui Visitors Bureau distributes brochures at honeymoon and bridal shows, advertises on several bridal Web sites and dedicates a section of its own Web site, www.visit, to honeymoons and weddings.

“We promote our romantic activities and warm culture of aloha to newlyweds,” said the bureau director, Marsha Wienert, “not to mention the huge variety of honeymoon packages available at our resorts and hotels.

“We position ourselves as the ultimate honeymoon spot, with tropical breezes and sunset strolls on the beach,” she said. “Couples often want to come back to Maui for their anniversary.”

According to Kauai Visitors Bureau surveys, honeymooners accounted for 16 percent of the island’s visitors last year.

The bureau forwards requests for specific honeymoon information to the Kauai Wedding Professional Association,, an organization dedicated to drawing wedding parties and just-married couples to Kauai.

“We are blessed with some incredible scenery that is very often the backdrop for spectacular weddings and honeymoons,” said Sue Kanoho, the bureau’s director. “Add the variety of things to do here, and honeymooners could stay for weeks on end.”

Spa treatments are becoming increasingly popular with Kauai honeymooners, said Kanoho, while helicopter tours, boat tours and kayaking are still favorites.

The Big Island Visitors Bureau director, George Applegate, said that couples from the Western United States are looking for an exotic, worry-free destination that is close to home. “Honeymooners can book direct flights from the West Coast to Kona International Airport,” said Applegate.

“Once here, they’re drawn to the diversity of the island, with its great weather, beaches, spas, eco-activities and cultural adventures,” he said.

The bureau advertises in the wedding magazine, The Knot (, and its Web newsletter for travel agents,, promotes members’ honeymoon packages.