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Hawaii tourism intensifies winter marketing push

Despite higher airfares, travel packages to Hawaii are between $200 and $900 less on average compared to 2007, local tourism executives said Wednesday.

Despite higher airfares, travel packages to Hawaii are between $200 and $900 less on average compared to 2007, local tourism executives said Wednesday.

The deals come from travel wholesalers and online travel agencies who say demand for Hawaii vacations are growing, thanks to intensified state marketing efforts.

The news came as the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau unveils its winter advertising campaign that begins Sunday and runs through early December.

Hawaii is in the midst of its worst tourism downturn in years.

In August, visitor spending in Hawaii dropped $206.9 million from the same month last year, while air arrivals fell by 107,000.

The HVCB is spending $4.5 on the winter campaign, with $1.5 million coming from the Hawaii Tourism Authority and $1.6 million from hotels and other industry members.

The campaign follows a similar $4-million fall marketing push that began in August. Another $4 million will support a spring campaign beginning in January.

“We’re raising the noise level in the marketplace,” said HVCB President and CEO John Monahan.

The $12.5 million in marketing is in addition to the base of $54 million in marketing money for the HTA, Hawaii’s lead agency for tourism.

The HVCB, the HTA’s chief marketing contractor, is targeting potential visitors from the West Coast, especially those who are avid, affluent travelers.

In addition to conventional media such as print and television, the marketing blitz also relies on Hawaii’s online presence to reach new audiences through minimal cost.

HVCB officials also said the first of six reality television shows with episodes shot in Hawaii would premiere this month on cable TV and repeat later in U.S. and Canadian markets.

The programs were not identified but are said to focus on family, romance and food interests that fit well with Hawaii’s desired tourist demographics.