HTA curbs South Korea marketing

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The Hawaii Tourism Authority has decided to spend more money to market in Japan and North America while putting on hold funds directed toward South Korea.

An additional $700,000 will be spent to attract visitors from Japan, Hawaii's second-largest visitor market. Another $310,000 will go to attracting meetings, incentives and conventions, primarily from the Japanese market. And $100,000 will go to drum up business from North America, Hawaii's largest market.

But the HTA will wait until at least late January to spend another $607,000 on marketing to South Korea, as well as spending an additional $238,000 for purposes to be determined later.

Some state officials and industry businesses have pushed for more marketing to South Korea; that market is expected to grow significantly since the country's entrance into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program in November.

However, board members want to shift more marketing monies to Japan, which currently has a stronger yen-dollar exchange rate and is seeing a decline in fuel surcharges placed on airline tickets.

Japanese travel to Hawaii in 2007 exceeded 1 million visitors compared with about 40,000 from Korea.

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