HONOLULU -- Hawaii's first tourism liaison, Marsha Wienert, said
among her initial priorities will be to increase airlift to all
islands, and define and implement performance measures for the
Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Weinert, who was appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle last week and
will assume the position July 1, also said she will focus on
developing the administration's tourism legislative package for the
2004 session and advise the governor about how to most effectively
market and operate the Hawaii Convention Center.
Wienert, in laying out her goals, chose the Travel Weekly
Leadership Forum here to make her first public address.
Wienert, who has been director of the Maui Visitors Bureau since
1994, is said to be the first cabinet-level state official in the
country charged with examining the direction and strategy of the
visitor industry on a statewide level.
The consensus is that the governor chose "someone who
understands how tourism impacts all industries" and how decisions
in the legislature impact the destination, said Hawaii Visitors and
Convention Bureau President Tony Vericella.
Wienert thanked the group of about 200 top wholesalers,
retailers, airline representatives and tourism leaders gathered at
the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and asked for their help and
guidance. "We will be inclusive because I will rely on all of you,"
she said to a standing ovation.
She dismissed any overlap between her position and that of
Vericella or Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Rex
Johnson. Instead, her day-to-day access to the governor will help
the many components of the $10 billion industry that drives this
state function more smoothly. "Rex and Tony will be my right and
left arms," she said.
Wienert's statements about inclusiveness rang especially true
for Tim Irwin, CEO of Pleasant Holidays, who suggested the state
create a Hawaii Tour Operator Organization to give a voice to the
companies that bring an estimated 2-3 million people to the Islands
each year through wholesaler packages.
"We can't wait for the state's tourism plan to see if we fit
into it; we must play an active part from the very beginning," said
Irwin. "We must all work together; there must be a better
coordination of plans and marketing dollars." He also asked the
state to base its cooperative efforts on the productivity of its
While Irwin called for more voice in the planning process, he
also said that "Hawaii is coming back faster and stronger," a
sentiment shared by other leaders in sessions bathed in optimism
and survivalist strategies.
Even talk from the airlines was upbeat. For example, United's
John DeNardo reported that 162 of the carrier's flights, including
24 daily nonstops to Hawaii, will return to the marketplace next