They say you should fish where the fishing’s good, which explains
why The Big Island Visitors Bureau is casting much of its marketing
line to Western travel agents and their clients in the coming year.
“The Big Island’s marketing agenda is quite simple,” said George
Applegate, Big Island Visitors Bureau’s executive director. “We’re
spending our limited marketing resources in those areas that can
immediately impact business. The thrust of our plan is directed at
the Western U.S., which remains our largest market by far.”
Year-to-date through September, The Big Island’s domestic
visitor numbers were up 2.1%, while international arrivals were
down 9%, according to data from Hawaii’s Department of Business,
Economic Development and Tourism. Barring acts of terrorism or war,
Applegate expects visitor arrivals to the Big Island in 2003 to
increase slightly over this year.
“Travel patterns should remain the same,” he said, “with vibrant
leisure travel from the U.S. West and recovery from the U.S.
First on BIVB’s agenda is a push to drive visitor traffic in
late 2002 and the beginning of 2003. In December, the bureau is
conducting a Denver media blitz to stimulate destination coverage
and drive visitors to United Airlines’ new direct Saturday flights
from Denver to Kona.
“The new route starts on Dec. 14 and provides a key link in air
service,” Applegate said. “In January we’ll hit the road with our
members on a sales blitz to Denver.”
A West Coast media blitz to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle,
Portland and Oakland is planned for early 2003, with a West Coast
sales blitz scheduled for April to encourage wholesale and retail
travel agent familiarization tours on The Big Island.
BIVB recently initiated The Big Island Travel Agent
Certification program, designed to help agents sell the destination
“It’s an on-island program that can be customized to meet a
travel agency’s growing need for updated Hawaii information,”
Meanwhile, BIVB is attending next year’s Travel Show in Seattle,
Los Angeles Times Travel Show, Phoenix Travel Show and ASTA’s
Western Regional and World congresses. It’s advertising in the
travel trades, consumer travel magazines and bridal and golf
publications. BIVB also is cooperating on ad campaigns with
In other news, Applegate voiced optimism over the impact of the
first Big Island Festival, held in late October and early
“The festival dates were sandwiched between the Society of
American Travel Writers convention and ASTA’s World Congress in
Honolulu,” Applegate said. “We enjoyed participation from both
groups at the festival.”
Slated as an annual event, the 2002 festival incorporated
signature resort happenings along the Kohala Coast with special
ones such as the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Hamakua Music
Festival, Bounty of Keauhou culinary festival and Pacific Cup of
The Food Network is producing a one-hour television special on
The Big Island Festival and The Big Island Cook-Off, which featured
Food and Wine magazine’s 2002 Best New Chefs in America and
Hawaii’s culinary stars.
“I would like to see the festival expand to encompass even more
lifestyle and cultural events and build on the culinary successes
already started,” Applegate said.
The next Big Island Festival is scheduled for Nov. 5-9,