Haoli Makahiki Hou. It’s never too late for that. Let’s all hope that 2003 will be a happy and prosperous one.

With amazement I have followed the recent articles about our #1 revenue producer, tourism. To me it appears that the “Old Boy’s Club Left Over” is suddenly working its brains off but is coming up empty and therefore is panicking.

The Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau is sounding off old bytes on Lilo & Stitch, claiming “happily” that the first year for $1.7 million was a success. Does that mean more children have visited Hawaii? Have they brought with them their parents? At the same time the Hawaii Tourism Authority is complaining that the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is not providing sufficient data to implement effective marketing strategies. And HTA’s Frank Haas is sounding off that new marketing strategies will focus on higher spending markets. Then HTA’s chief thinker, Rex Johnson, sounds off and is complaining that the HVCB is not spending its provided $33 million wisely. Huh?

Although there is not sufficient data, which in fact is missing because of missing results from the HTA, the L&S claim is made by the HTA but HTA is failing to specify its findings. Johnson’s sidekick Haas suddenly is focusing on additional markets after having failed for 10 months to implement necessary strategies on Europe and other markets that had been neglected for years. It appears the HTA and HVCB is meandering with the flow of markets that would have visited Hawaii anyway.

Finally DBEDT will receive its long overdue facelift and will become what we expect of it. “King” Seji Naya writing children’s books about Business & Tourism is now in the past. I applaud Gov. Linda Lingle on her choice for new DBEDT director, Ted Liu. It will not be an easy task so please let’s all be patient. The new administration has to overcome 40 years of mostly mismanagement. And after 40 years we finally have a governor who understands business and aloha. Let’s all roll up our sleeves and provide as much assistance as possible to make us all successful again, as a team effort.

I am still waiting to see what marketing strategies the HTA wants to implement to accomplish its goals. The HTA budget stands but it only states what is needed, not how to make things happen. So my suggestion is to close HTA. With the new DBEDT and a cabinet level position of Director for Tourism, we will be a lot more cost effective. No more Lilo & “Stitches.”

The money set free can support other programs.

We have offered our expertise, advise and twice our ideas were taken by the HTA but wasted. No one within the HTA appears to have proper professional qualifications to justify their positions. It is time to focus on markets that have been largely neglected because no one understands their specific mentalities or their languages.

At the same time the HVCB should be carefully scrutinized to value its effectiveness. A bidding process should begin to find a qualified agency that can best market our beautiful state. No more it is whom you know and not what you know.

”’Dieter Thate is owner of Dieter’s Tours and Kimapa Hawaii since 1993. He can be reached by e-mail at:”’ mailto:mail@kimapa.com ”’Visit his Web site at:”’ http://www.kimapa.com

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