Updated: December 7, 2023
The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Board of Directors took decisive action at its monthly board meeting Thursday to approve $2.6 million in funding to launch the Maui Marketing Recovery Plan. The plan is centered around a new Mālama Maui campaign and prioritizes rebuilding travel demand from the United States market to Maui in the wake of the devastating Lahaina wildfires.
“We extend our deepest aloha to the Lahaina and Kula communities and stand alongside the people of Maui during this difficult time,” said Mahina Paishon Duarte, HTA board vice chair.
On Aug. 18, Hawai‘i State Governor Josh Green, M.D. declared that a tourism emergency exists in his sixth emergency proclamation. West Maui accounts for 15% of Hawai‘i’s tourism economy, with an estimated $9 million loss per day in the wake of the fire, according to the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
“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 Aug. 8,” said Blaine Miyasato, HTA board chair. “It was clear that HTA needed to immediately bolster its existing efforts to ensure Hawai‘i remains a top vacation destination for travelers in the months and years ahead. The board voted unanimously to approve funds for this critical plan to deliver a clear message: respectful, compassionate, responsible travel to the accessible areas of Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands is welcomed and encouraged, now more than ever.”
The Mālama Maui campaign will begin immediately and continue through Oct. 31, 2023, with a continued focus on attracting the mindful traveler to the accessible areas of Maui, which includes Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia, Makawao and Hāna, as well as the other Hawaiian Islands of Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi 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’s messages will be shared by kama‘āina (residents) of Maui through an integrated marketing effort that will leverage earned, digital and social media. The Mālama Maui campaign will also be amplified through existing partnerships with upcoming sporting events with HTA support like the PGA Tour, Maui Invitational, and the LA Clippers training camp and pre-season game against the Utah Jazz. Ongoing efforts to educate travel agents and meeting planners who are critical in educating their clients on mindful and respectful travel will also be enhanced by the campaign.
As a state agency, HTA is an integral part of the state’s response to any emergency. In the immediate wake of the Maui fires, HTA and its partners coordinated the evacuation of visitors from the affected areas, stood up an assistance center with the American Red Cross to serve visitors evacuated to O‘ahu, and shared timely information through local, national, and international media outlets.
HTA continues to support the state’s response and recovery efforts, including the temporary housing task force that placed over 5,000 disaster survivors and emergency workers in Maui hotels, and the economic recovery task force to ensure that mindful visitors return to Maui.