Bookers of attractions are attracted to Web, panel says

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HONOLULU -- The Internet is pushing the industry in a positive direction, by sparking an increase in prearrival bookings to such attractions as the Atlantis Adventures underwater submarine experience, according to Toni Marie Davis, executive director of the Activities & Attractions Association of Hawaii (A3H).

Davis joined a panel of attractions executives convened here to discuss the importance of the attractions market to the destination as a whole.

According to Atlantis President and CEO Ron Williams, who is also president of the A3H, the number of visitors to the attraction was up 21% in 2003 from the previous year. Atlantis grossed $32 million in 2003. Waikiki Zoo and Sea Life Park also reported increases.

Davis said the organization is encouraging members to make use of reservations systems in order to provide a simpler booking process for travel agents and consumers.

The A3H, a nonprofit group with a booking engine that enables agents to arrange tour options for clients, has more than 200 supplier members, according to Davis.

Agents can earn a 15% commission on each advance booking by joining the A3H's Travel Agent Referral Program, which carries a $50 annual membership fee.

Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity also offer pretravel bookings of tours and attractions but only to those who buy a travel package through them.

President John Monahan of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), meanwhile, said his organization is promoting the islands through "Aloha Live," a traveling festival that will bring Hawaiian music, crafts and food to the mainland this month. The festival will play in various cities from coast to coast.

Also, Monahan said, a series of TV spots will air in cities with large numbers of inbound Hawaii travelers, such as Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. The ads, which highlight the islands' activities and adventures, will begin airing in September, he said.

Both the television marketing campaign and the "Aloha Live" concert tour are funded by the HVCB.

In other attractions news, the Travel Channel and the History Channel both have filmed segments at the Battleship Missouri recently. Lee Collins, vice president of sales and marketing for the Battleship Missouri, said the segments are scheduled to air in the next several months.

Collins said a recent increase in cruise ship passengers to Hawaii has meant more visitors to the Missouri, noting that the demographics of cruisers are similar to those of traditional visitors to the attraction.

For information on the A3H, call (808) 398-9698 or go to www.hawaiifun.org.

To contact the reporter who wrote this story, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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