Marriott is launching a month-long traveling road show to encourage tourists to consider planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands.
A 45-foot-long tour bus featuring colorful tropical images of Hawaii began its trip in Phoenix this week and will visit 11 additional cities, traveling across Texas and then to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, St. Louis, Omaha, Denver and Salt Lake City with a final two-day stop in Los Angeles, Feb. 11-12.
"American Idol" season three top three finisher Jasmine Trias of Oahu was at the Phoenix kickoff and will also make an appearance at the close of the tour in Los Angeles. Trias currently appears with the Society of Seven group at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. She is also working on her second album, due for release in 2010.
Traveling on the bus will be Marriott Resorts Hawaii leaders, including general managers and directors of sales and marketing from each of its resort hotels, who will visit with travel partners, groups and media. Performers from the Polynesian Cultural Center will provide Hawaiian entertainment at each stop.
Marriott Resorts Hawaii will provide continuous updates from the road on Twitter and Facebook and a blog on the Marriott Hawaii Web site. p> "Our aim is to encourage folks to travel to the Hawaiian Islands in the coming year and stay at one of our beautiful Marriott Resorts on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii's Big Island," said Chris Tatum, vice president of Marriott International -- North Asia, Hawaii and South Pacific, in a statement. "Hawaii is already popular across the U.S. -- our goal is simply to raise the level of awareness and give people the extra nudge to come see us."
This is the third bus tour Marriott has conducted in the U.S. The company also conducted a similar tour last October in Japan. Despite these efforts, Hawaii's tourism has declined, sorely affecting the state's economy. The unemployment rate has more than doubled over the last two years to 7.0%, reports the Los Angeles Times. For the first time in a decade, the number of Hawaiians receiving welfare benefits has increased. Crime is up on the island of Oahu this year, even as it fell nationwide.
"It's the "worst recession in our lifetimes," Marcus Oshiro, chairman of the state House Finance Committee, told the newspaper. The number of visitors to the islands in November 2009 fell 17% from 2007, and total spending by air visitors for the first 11 months of 2009 decreased $1.3 billion from the same period in 2008.
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is partnering with Marriott Resorts Hawaii on the promotional tour and its president and CEO John Monahan traveled to Phoenix for the launch. Hawaiian Airlines, which has partnered in all three of Marriott's road tours, provides daily nonstop flights between Phoenix and Honolulu, as well as Los Angeles and several other West Coast cities, and is the main carrier around the Hawaiian Islands.
Marriott International in Hawaii is represented by six resort hotels on three major islands: JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach. In addition, there are four Marriott Vacation Club International vacation ownership resorts.