With its rural ambience and limited number of accommodations,
Molokai traditionally hosts fewer visitors than most of the
islands. But thanks to a stepped-up effort by the Molokai Visitors
Association, it recently has been outshining such high-profile
neighbors as Oahu and The Big Island by showing significant gains
in visitor counts.
Year-to-date through September, Molokai’s total arrivals were
30.6% higher than during the same time period in 2001. The number
of guests arriving from the mainland grew by 23.5%, according to a
report from the state Department of Business, Economic Development
From January to September 2000, Molokai’s total arrivals were
45,446. This year that figure jumped to 72,146.
Sandy Beddow, Molokai Visitors Association director, points to
several reasons for her island’s increase in visitor numbers over
the past two years, including what she called an overall yearning
among clients for a peaceful, relaxing destination.
“I believe that today’s travelers are looking for a safe place
to visit,” Beddow said. “They want a destination that is
family-oriented, with plenty of things to do for all ages.
“They also want a quiet place without traffic problems and large
crowds,” she added. “They want a place whose residents are friendly
and responsive to visitors. We are all of those things. That’s the
message we are taking on the road.”
One of the Visitors Association’s most important marketing
efforts is its participation in the Maui Visitors Bureau’s travel
agent seminars on the mainland. Called Destination Maui, Molokai
and Lanai, the seminars reach as many as 800 agents per trip.
“Surprisingly, there are still many travel agents out there who
do not know anything about Molokai,” Beddow said. “The Destination
events, combined with our media blitzes, have been very successful
In the past year the Molokai Visitors Association has drummed up
some good press for the island, something Beddow said has made a
positive impact on visitor counts.
“This is an island that you really have to see in order to sell,
so the more writers and travel agents we can bring over, the
better,” she said.
Also impacting travelers this year has been the association’s
distribution of Molokai posters to travel agents, who use them in
window displays and for special promotions.
The May 2001 start-up of regular ferry service between Maui and
Molokai has helped the island gain exposure among visitors to the
popular Valley Isle. “Since the ferry started running, we have been
promoting day trips to our island,” Beddow said. “This has gone
A large percentage of day-trippers from Maui have expressed an
interest in returning to Molokai for more than one day, she
Operated by Island Marine, the 149-passenger ferry the Molokai
Princess makes the 23-mile crossing from Lahaina, Maui to
Kaunakakai, Molokai in about one hour and 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Molokai Visitors Association recently entered
into a contract with Paradise TV on Maui. Six times a day, the
visitor channel is running a five-minute segment about Molokai.
“Soon we will be doing some advertising as a tag to the end of
the segment,” Beddow said. “We hope that by encouraging Maui
visitors to come see us, they will add stays on Molokai to their
plans when they return to Hawaii.”