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When the Oahu Visitors Bureau (OVB) was forced to cut funding this year for one of its most popular annual marketing campaigns, a group of travel agents stepped forward to keep it alive and well. Thanks to their efforts, the sixth annual Travel Pink! Travel Oahu (TPTO) — a program of health and wellness-related activities and events benefitting the fight against breast cancer — is taking place from Oct. 13-17.
Since its inception in 2006, TPTO has been an effective campaign with widespread support from Hawaii industry partners and wholesalers as well as travel agents certified as Oahu Master Specialists (OMS). Over the years it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Susan G. Komen for the Cure Hawaii, which funds research, mammograms and other services for island residents fighting breast cancer.
But, according to OVB’s director of travel industry sales, Stacey Alford, the bureau needed to adjust its marketing resources in 2011 due to the challenges of the economy.
“Much of our focus this year has been on statewide saturation market blitzes,” said Alford. “We could only stretch our budget so far. TPTO was a campaign that we had to cut back on.”
In response, a group of OMS agreed to carry the TPTO torch in 2011 on a volunteer basis, with a goal of raising at least $5,000 for the cause.
“Thanks to the OMS team, the momentum of the TPTO brand, the depth of its relationship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure Hawaii and the steadfast passion for the cause, TPTO has evolved into a model that will evolve even further in 2012,” Alford said.
“Because many of our OMS agents plan to be on Oahu for the events, they are giving TPTO a personal touch. They’re showing a warrior’s determination to fight for a cure for breast cancer, while raising funds that support Hawaii’s people,” she said.
Additionally, Starwood and Hilton resorts in Waikiki are supporting this year’s program by hosting some of the TPTO events.
As always, TPTO is timed with the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Hawaii. Unlike years past, however, the rest of the 2011 schedule is focused on presenting Oahu as a health and wellness destination.
Travelers booking the TPTO package can attend an opening event on Thursday night that begins with Iwalani Walsh Tseu, a kumu hula (hula teacher) and two-time breast cancer survivor who will lead participants in a talk-story session and oceanside sunset ceremony. The evening continues with pupus, a raffle and a concert by musician Danny Couch.
On Friday, the group goes on an exclusive historical and cultural tour of Oahu led by a naturalist guide. Among the stops are Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Valley, the Royal Birthing Stones, Tseu’s healing gardens and Hilton Hawaiian Village for evening fireworks. On Saturday, TPTO travelers have a free day for paid activities, of which at least 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure Hawaii. Sunday begins with the Race for the Cure, with TPTO participants joining throngs of other pink-clad runners and walkers along a route that begins and ends in Waikiki’s Kapiolani Park. Then, the nearby New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel serves a breakfast buffet and hosts a presentation by native Hawaiian healer Kahu Kauila Clark. Afterward, everyone is invited to the beach for a special blessing in the water.
On the final day, participants can join each other for a sunrise walk along Waikiki Beach, followed by optional activities. Come evening, a farm-to-table farewell dinner at Sheraton Waikiki’s Kai Market serves foods reflecting Hawaii’s multicultural population and fresh local ingredients.
Clients can purchase components of the TPTO package individually, but if they buy the entire package they receive a discounted rate along with certain benefits such as preferred concert seating.
Clearly, Alford is inspired by and grateful for the OMS team and their dedication to the TPTO cause.
“I’ve had the personal and professional privilege of learning much from our OMS agents,” she said. “Their unity and shared passion for Oahu and the cause have fueled their determination to make the 2011 TPTO experience the best yet.”