On June 4 the Hawaii Tourism Authority board approved a $71.4 million budget for the state's 2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Roughly one third, or $22.3 million, will go to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to market Hawaii's travel industry throughout North America; $7.3 million will go to marketing efforts in Japan; $1.5 million will go to China, South Korea and Taiwan; Australia and New Zealand will receive $700,000, while Europe will see $100,000.
In fact, 86% of the $71.4 million will go directly to marketing the state's tourism industry, including $10.1 million to the Marketing Opportunity Fund that was added to this year in hopes of helping stimulate travel to the islands in the near future.
"We're very pleased that the goal for the fiscal year 2010 budget is to increase visitors to our islands," said state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert. "To do that, what the board approved was creating a $10 million marketing opportunity fund on top of the allocations to our marketing contractors ... which will allow marketing contractors to create programs and access that $10 million for programs that would generate short-term business to the islands."
According to David Uchiyama, vice president of tourism marketing at the HTA, a great deal of that $10 million will go to future marketing blitzes in West Coast cities like Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles. Both Uchiyama and Wienert said a similar, month-long media saturation campaign conducted by the HVCB earlier this spring in San Francisco produced impressive results.
"What we have to keep in mind is that we've got limited funding, because we're a state marketing against other countries like Mexico and the Caribbean, and all these guys that just have unbelievable war chests," Uchiyama said. "So we have to be really smart about how we utilize our funds, and this saturation of a market basically had Hawaii everywhere you turned. So that's the kind of penetration that we're going to need to move the needle moving forward, especially when Mexico launches their campaign."
According to Wienert, the total operating budget of $71.4 million for 2010 is essentially the same figure the HTA worked with in 2009. Annual revenue from the state's hotel room tax, officially known as the Transitory Accommodations Tax, funds the HTA budget.
The $4.5 million that would have gone to the NFL for the 2010 Pro Bowl -- which will be held in Miami next year -- was redirected toward the 2010 marketing opportunity fund.
"I think that with this marketing opportunity fund, it gives the HTA and their marketing contractors and the board the flexibility that's needed to be able to react to opportunities that weren't necessarily available historically," Wienert explained.
"So as opportunities arise, or as we see that markets are turning the corner a little bit or that there is opportunity in those markets for increased business, then programs can be put together and the dollars accessed from the opportunity fund with a little bit more ease. So I really think it's a step in the right direction to have that flexibility with those dollars."