Marketing America Abroad

Mufi Hannemann
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April 27, 2011 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

Yes, we know states like California and Florida are magnets for tourists. According to the U.S. Travel Association, those states annually generate about $99 billion and $70 billion in travel spending and 858,000 and 757,000 direct jobs, respectively.

But even states not known internationally as travel destinations, say Missouri or Oklahoma, enjoy the benefits of travel. The Show Me State can point to $12 billion in tourism spending and 125,600 direct jobs, while the Sooner State reaps $6 billion in spending and 77,800 jobs.

For those of us in Hawaii, there’s no denying that tourism is our top industry, the most significant single source of private sector employment and a major revenue-producer. We recognize tourism’s importance.

But despite the contributions of tourism to our nation, the federal government has been slow to support the visitor industry. Billions in federal dollars have been spent to market American goods and services overseas, such as farm products, but with no commensurate support for tourism despite its role in the economies of every state.

That’s about to change. The passage of the Tourism Promotion Act, signed into law by President Obama in March, should provide a welcome boost to our fortunes by marketing U.S. tourism in foreign markets - for the first time ever.

This act was one of the initiatives I pushed when I served as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Committee on Tourism.

Thanks to congressional advocates such as U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, we secured passage of this legislation that will direct federal resources to promoting international travel to the United States.

The program is in the Department of Commerce and under the direction of a nonprofit corporation, with noted Island chef Roy Yamaguchi an active member of the governing board.

Funding for the marketing will come from visa fees. Combined with our continuing efforts to ease visa restrictions from friendly nations, and to strike a better balance between homeland security and hospitality, we expect this new initiative to attract 1.6 million new visitors from abroad, generate $4 billion in additional spending, produce $321 million in federal tax revenues and create 40,000 jobs.

The international marketing initiative is expected to kick off during the second half of this year. That will dovetail perfectly with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit being held this November in Honolulu.

These two developments can only help the travel industry and our island economy, at a time when we need them most.


Nancy Gorospe
Title: Fountain Dispenser
Employment: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

Nancy Gorospe is the Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year, an honor bestowed by the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association at its 2011 Na Po’e Pa’ahana (The Hard Working People) awards program.

Gorospe, who’s worked in the hospitality industry for 21 years, earned the title for having the reputation of going the extra mile in everything she does at the Moana Surfrider. One elderly couple that stays at the hotel six months a year has made it clear that they’ve been guests for two solid decades solely because of her. She has befriended the couple and even does errands for them on her own time.

On her own initiative, Gorospe researched and market-tested a new food product among guests at the hotel’s snack bar. As a result, the Moana changed to that product and is now generating an additional $5,000 a month in revenue.

Her take on her approach to work? “Because I love it!” she says. “It makes me feel good that I can help others.”

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