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Maui Visitors Bureau pivots during pandemic

VIEWPOINT

During this pandemic, the Maui Visitors Bureau has pretty much reinvented our normal role of marketing to play a critical role in the ongoing educational messaging to ensure the safety and health of our community as well as our visitors.

For the majority of 2020, we shifted our strategy to crisis management in line with County of Maui, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau/Hawaii Tourism Authority, corporate and state guidance.

From March 26 to Sept. 14, our HVCB/MVB staff managed and followed up with all quarantining visitors. Over that time, we placed 250,000 calls statewide to the quarantining visitors, monitored their quarantine compliance, answered their questions and worked with authorities on quarantine violators.

As of Oct. 13, we expanded our (800) GoHawaii (464-2924) visitor call center to handle Safe Travels calls. The center received more than 900 calls per day statewide.

From June until now, we have also:

• Developed the Malama Hawaii messaging and program as an evolution of our Rooted and Kuleana campaigns to address the need for more sustainable, regenerative tourism amidst declining resident sentiment for tourism.

• Developed and launched the Safe Travels pre-test soft-opening educational campaign.

• Handled visitor Safe Travels questions via info@gohawaii.com along with the HVCB and each island chapter’s visitors bureau (Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island). On average, we receive around 200 requests for assistance per day.

Please know that our MVB team’s focus for the past Maui County grant periods (grants MVB received from county budget), fiscal year 2019 and 2020, and currently in fiscal year 2021, is on sustainable tourism programs, which include the following:

• FY19: Maui Nui Tourism Improvement Initiative.

• FY20: Maui Nui Sustainable Tourism Management Initiative.

• FY21: Maui Nui Sustainable and Safe Tourism Management Initiative.

An effective communication tool for MVB’s sustainable tourism messaging through these programs includes a series of impactful videos, including four Kuleana campaign videos in 2019 and 2020 with topics of astute renting, ocean safety, ocean health and Hawaiian culture.

This year, a “Molokai Travel Pono” video featuring cultural practitioner Kanoelani Davis will bring a message to travel mindfully in order to experience a deeper connection when you visit Molokai by coming with humility, an open mind and readiness to embrace the aloha spirit.

Another video this year will portray a Maui cultural ambassador giving a description of the Malama Maui County Pledge components.

To view these and other videos, visit www.youtube.com/c/gohawaii.

The broadcast channels for these videos include social media; television programming; MVB as well as partner websites; meetings, conventions and incentives events; and island transportation partners. Currently MVB’s marketing focus is on the mindful traveler who will respect the safety protocols, the community and the Hawaiian culture when visiting Maui Nui, and is interested in taking care of our earth, each other and the community through the Malama Hawaii program.

In an effort to inspire mindful travel, industry partners and volunteer organizations are coming together through this initiative to encourage visitors to give back to the destination. A small sample of the participating Maui partners include Fairmont Kea Lani, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Four Seasons Maui and Pacific Whale Foundation. By visitors making a positive community impact through the Malama Hawaii program, this further builds on sustainable tourism for Maui.

Just as there will always be the desire for people to move to Maui and make it their home, there will always be visitors with the desire to come to experience Maui.

Together we can work to assure that these are mindful and quality visitors who will have a positive impact on our community. MVB supports the Maui County Council’s resolution “Expressing Support for Sustainable Tourism, Emphasizing Quality Over Quantity.”

It will be wonderful to collaborate with state and county agencies to reshape tourism so both residents and visitors can enjoy the experience of what Hawaii has to offer.

* Sherry Duong is the executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau.

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