The Hollywood blockbuster "Jurassic World" is off to a roaring start at theaters across the globe, and Hawaii tourism officials are hoping the film’s success will boost bookings on Oahu and Kauai, which supplied a number of filming locations for the new dinosaur thriller.
The movie took in a whopping $208 million during its opening weekend earlier this month at theaters across the U.S. while earning $524 million worldwide—both figures set new records according to a June 17 Forbes report.
“The box office opening has far exceeded anybody’s expectations on our side over here,” said Sue Kanoho, the executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, who noted that filmmakers spent about six weeks shooting scenes at a handful of locations on the Garden Island late last summer.
Many of those involved in the production stayed at the beachfront Kauai Marriott Resort just outside of Lihue, according to Kanoho, and the filming work provided a substantial economic boost across the island last year, thanks to a range of spending on hotel room nights, car rentals, and food & beverage.
“I think they estimated the total economic impact was $5.3 million,” Kanoho said.
Kauai continues to enjoy a great amount of interest from travelers today because of its role as a backdrop for several scenes in the original "Jurassic Park," more than two decades ago.
“There are still people who come to the National Tropical Botanical Garden [on Kauai’s south shore] to see the Moreton Bay Fig tree, where the dinosaurs eggs were found in the first movie,” Kanoho said. “Here we are 23 years later, and there are people still wanting to be there and take a picture.”
Oahu is also home to a number of famous locations seen in "Jurassic Park," some of which were revisited in "Jurassic World," and several of those scenic destinations are easily accessible to visitors at the Kualoa Ranch attraction on the island’s windward coast.
“I really see the movie as a big commercial for the destination,” Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, the Oahu Visitor Bureau’s senior director of sales and marketing, said of "Jurassic World."
“I’m hoping we’ll see a tremendous amount of impact,” she added.
Last week tourism officials from both Kauai and Oahu conducted training sessions in the Los Angeles area for travel agents based in that key market, presenting a range of educational and product information for both islands, but this time the sessions ended with screenings of "Jurassic World."
“As soon as the agents heard this was happening, it was all booked up in no time,” Schilling-Wheeler said, adding that both Kauai and Oahu sales officials are encouraging agents to consider the movie as a way to raise interest in Hawaii vacations.
“We’d like them to think about it as a business opportunity, because their clients are watching this,” Shilling-Wheeler explained. “Where appropriate, use this as a tool, whether you’re talking face to face with a customer or using social media, use it to drive business to you as the expert.”