Hawaii Tourism Authority officials believe that special events are
a great way to draw out-of-towners to a destination. With that in
mind, the government organization charged with overseeing the
state’s visitor industry is funding more than two dozen festivals
and sports contests this year.
Frank Haas, HTA vice president of tourism and marketing, said
his group supports activities that generate media exposure and
bring people to Hawaii.
“We choose events that represent local culture and expose people
to the beauty of the islands,” said Haas. “We prefer activities in
a prototypical Hawaiian setting.”
Hawaii can boost visitor counts by positioning festivals during
traditionally soft tourism periods, Haas said. For instance, HTA is
considering creating a state-funded “season of the arts,” when art
exhibits and live shows would be offered during anticipated visitor
For 2003, HTA allocated $1.1 million to 10 major festivals.
According to Haas, the following events are expected to draw an
estimated 1.1 million people by the end of this year:
Honolulu Festival, March 14-16 (Oahu), highlighting ethnic
harmony between the people of Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region.
This year’s offerings included cultural exhibits, street
performances and a parade.
Volcano Party Festival, April 25-May 3 (Oahu, Maui), an HIV/AIDS
fund-raiser promoting Hawaii as a gay-friendly destination.
Participants play tourist by day, then attend parties, dances and
shows each evening.
Pan-Pacific Festival-Matsuri in Hawaii, June 6-8 (Oahu),
introducing Hawaii to the richness of Japanese culture. At last
month’s festival, visitors enjoyed traditional Japanese performing
arts and a Pan-Pacific hula show.
Maui Film Festival at Wailea, June 11-15 (Maui), with movie
premieres, celebrity appearances, Hawaiian entertainment and food
events. At the 2003 festival, celebrity guests included
actor/director Rob Reiner, actress Geena Davis and actor Adrien
Hawaii International Jazz Festival, July 18-26 (Oahu, Maui),
featuring concerts, classes and jam sessions by top entertainers.
Now in its tenth year, the 2003 HIJF lineup includes pianist Makoto
Ozone, guitarist Larry Coryell, vocalist Tierney Sutton and
trumpeter Tiger Okoshi.
Maui Writers Conference and Retreat, Aug. 28-Sept. 1 (Maui),
where aspiring writers rub elbows with high-profile editors,
authors and agents. Among the writers speaking at MWC 2003 are
Sherman Alexie, Ben Bova, Diane Mott Davidson, Tess Gerritsen, Tami
Hoag and Gerald McDermott.
Aloha Festivals, Sept. 12-Oct. 25 (statewide), celebrating
Hawaii’s culture and history through a variety of venues, from
concerts and sports to parades and parties. The six major islands
get into the act, each with its own Royal Court (residents of
Hawaiian ancestry wear the colorful garb of the early kings and
Hawaii International Film Festival, Oct. 31-Nov. 9 (statewide),
presenting top films from Asia, the Pacific and North America, with
seminars and receptions with the filmmakers. The multi-island
event, which screens movies in two dozen theaters, drew a total
audience of 65,000 last year.
Big Island Festival, Nov. 5-9 (Big Island), celebrating the
diversity of the island through its food, wine, music, sports,
spas, products and people. Highlights of last year’s inaugural BIF
included elaborate evening gatherings with meals prepared by
Korean Centennial Celebration, throughout the year (statewide),
inspired by the culture and history of America’s first Korean
immigrants. On Oahu, for instance, clients can attend public
lectures and workshops with key Korean artists and see their work
in various Honolulu galleries.
Meanwhile, HTA has invested $585,000 to support sporting events
this year, including golf tournaments such as the Turtle Bay
Championship and Sony Open (Oahu); PGA Grand Slam (Kauai); Mercedes
Championship and ConAgra Championships Skins (Maui); and MasterCard
Championship (Big Island).
Other HTA-funded sports events in 2003 are the NFL Pro Bowl and
Xcel Surf Pro Contest (Oahu); three deep-sea fishing tournaments
and the Ironman Triathlon (Big Island); and the Maui Invitational
basketball tournament, Maui Marathon and King of the Air
kiteboarding competition (Maui).
For 2004, HTA is hoping to bring back as many festivals and
events as possible to maintain continuity from year to year, said
“Next year’s lineup looks to be about the same,” he said. “But
we’re always getting new proposals. First and foremost, we’re
focusing on presenting quality events that enrich our tourism