Hawaii Hunts for Millennium Tourists

Islands running behind on efforts to attract visitors in year 2000

Hawaii is a great vacation location, but even with the sunshine, beaches and palm trees the state has work to attract tourists. For the year 2000, a commission was established to create a series of millennium events, but it looks like that commission is running behind schedule.

The commission chairman and former Gov. John Waihee told the Hawaii Tourism Authority that his group is "behind the eight ball" as it works to attract people and get events in place for its millennium advertising campaign.

"You probably heard comments that we were late in starting," Waihee told the Associated Press ""We intend to do the best we can with what we have."

The HTA gave the commission $750,000 to promote millennium events in Hawaii. The commission spent $220,000 of that money for a New Year's party that included a waterfront dance party, an exploding pineapple in Waikiki and a laser show off Diamond Head that most people couldn't see because of fireworks smoke.

Now that the big New Year’s party is over the commission is going to set up events for a yearlong millennium advertising campaign. One event the group has in mind is to bring back people who used to live in Hawaii. The commission wants to have some kind of reunion party for former residents.

Members are also working a similar reunion for people who were married in Hawaii, hoping they will want to return for the year 2000. Waihee said his group is also looking to find people who want to tie the knot for the first time and bring a large number of newlyweds to Hawaii to celebrate a year 2000 wedding.

Many of these millennium events were planned for May and June, but some HTA members fear the commission won't be able to get its event together in time to offer enough advance promotion and give travel agents time to pitch trips to prospective customers.

"If no marketing goes outside the state to support the celebration of the millennium, then the event won't come off the ground," said HTA board member Peter Schall of Hilton Resorts Hawaii. "You're already missing the curve for the month of May."

While the millennium event idea seemed to be a good idea, it may not get off the ground in time. Hawaii may have to rely on its sunny weather and beaches to attract tourists in the Year 2000, without any special promotions.

(Source: Associated Press)

DATE: 1/13/2000

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