June Pagdilao, Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau; Maree Robinson, Darragh Walshe, both Hawai’I Tourism Oceania June Pagdilao, Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau; Maree Robinson, Darragh Walshe, both Hawai’I Tourism Oceania

‘We’re ready for your clients’: Maui’s message to trade at Hawai’i’s Month of Lei event

The New Zealand trade has been encouraged to sell Maui with confidence, but also to pass on advice to clients in terms of protocols and behaviour – particularly around the town of Lahaina which was devastated by fire last year.

The message came during a breakfast and educational session focused on the Hawaiian islands for May Month of Lei at Four Points by Sheraton Auckland yesterday.

June Pagdilao, sales director of Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau, says the destination’s main message is ‘we are ready for you’ and he emphasises that the vast majority of the island – even in the west – is fully open.

‘We want visitors back and we see it as an opportunity to rebuild in a more resilient and sustainable way,’ he says.

However he says the trade should advise clients not to visit impacted areas to take photos and post them on social media and to be patient if travel is effected in any way.

‘Do not ask locals if they were impacted by the fires because the situation is still raw for many people. At memorials visitors should walk by and not take photos.’

Other key advice is to support local businesses.

The event in Auckland also included presentations from the visitor bureaus of Kaua’i, O’ahu, and the Island of Hawaii, plus an update from Hawaiian Airlines.

Russell (Rusty) Williss, country director with HA, confirmed that the airline will be back in market from 16 November, with HA446 flying three times a week (Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday) ex AKL.

‘We have appreciated the support from the trade over the last 10 years and that support will be even more important to us when the service is back.’

Darragh Walshe, of Hawai’i Tourism Oceania, says yesterday’s event is one of two important in-person events held in the New Zealand market – with Aloha Down Under happening later in the year.

‘The May event is about in-depth training with a particular emphasis on multi-island distribution. All of the neighbour islands have their own personality and we focus on that.’

Walshe says the destination is recovering steadily from New Zealand, with 50,000 Kiwi visitors last year compared to about 70,000 pre-Covid.

‘We might be slightly below that this year due to the reduced airlift (with Hawaiian Airlines going seasonal) but we are still positive about the market.’

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