The Hawaii Tourism Authority Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve $2.6 million in funding to launch the Maui Marketing Recovery Plan, according to a news release.
The initiative aims to rebuild travel demand from the United States market to Maui.
The Lahaina wildfires have had an enormous impact on Maui's tourism economy, particularly in West Maui, which accounts for 15% of the state's tourism revenue. Immediately after the fires, tourists were asked to leave Maui, and those who had upcoming trips to West Maui were encouraged to cancel them. According to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, the region has suffered an estimated daily loss of $9 million since the fire's outbreak on Aug. 8.
“HTA board members and staff had the opportunity to visit Maui over the past weeks to meet with residents and business owners and listen to them about the challenges they now face with visitor arrivals decreasing significantly since August 8,” said Blaine Miyasato, HTA board chair. “It was clear that HTA needed to immediately bolster its existing efforts to ensure Hawaii remains a top vacation destination for travelers in the months and years ahead.”
The central message of the Maui marketing campaign, which will run now until Oct. 31, is to encourage respectful, compassionate and responsible travel to the accessible areas of Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands. These areas include Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Wailea, Makena, Paia, Makawao, Hana, as well as Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, Molokai and Hawaii Island.
"The campaign’s message will focus on thanking people for their outpouring of aloha and reiterate how they can continue to support Maui and its people by supporting local organizations assisting with disaster relief,” said Daniel Nāho‘opi‘i, HTA’s chief administrative officer. “It will also show gratitude to visitors who are continuing with their Maui vacations to support the economy, supporting local shops, local restaurants and local activities which ultimately aids in the island’s overall recovery efforts.”
The campaign will be shared by Maui's residents through integrated marketing efforts involving earned, digital and social media. The campaign will also educate travel agents and meeting planners who will, in turn, educate their clients on mindful travel. HTA's existing partnerships with upcoming sporting events, such as the PGA Tour, Maui Invitational, and the LA Clippers training camp and preseason game against the Utah Jazz, will amplify the message to respectfully visit Maui.
The HTA played a role in coordinating the evacuation of visitors from affected areas in the immediate aftermath of the Maui fires. They established an assistance center with the American Red Cross on Oahu to serve evacuated visitors and provided timely information through the media. The state agency also helped with the temporary housing task force, which placed fire survivors in Maui hotels. HTA is now working to ensure mindful visitors return to Maui to aid in the island's overall recovery efforts.