As the cold weather settles into Canada once more, travellers will be on the hunt for a sunny escape.
And, the Island of Hawaii is hoping Canadian travellers who love the idea of escaping across the border will go the extra mile (well, technically a few hundred miles), and vacation in Hawaii, as opposed to doing the same trip to Florida.
Hawaii Tourism Canada and VoX International invited travel partners to its Aloha Canada event, which included stops in Toronto and Vancouver last week and featured representatives from the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, the Kauaʻi Visitors Bureau, and the Oahu Visitors Bureau who happily spoke about some of the most exciting updates on their respective islands.
Last year, the Kilauea Volcano, located on the Island of Hawaii, erupted and sent massive lava flows down the roads that lead into the popular Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The eruptions began in May, and lasted through September. It was a major turning point for tourism to Hawaii, and while numbers dipped slightly below average for 2018, the reopening of the park is a key factor in driving those numbers back up, says Deanna Isbister, director of sales, Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau.
“Our guests are very curious; they want to see what actually happened, and see how the flows have changed,” Isbister said. “They won’t be able to see the live lava flows anymore, but it’s more about exploring the entire part of the volcano and educating everyone about the events that took place in 2018.”
The lava tomb has not yet reopened, and the artifacts from the original museum are currently being relocated to a new location for display, which will open soon.
Kauaʻi was also dealing with its share of natural disasters, and after experiencing some flood activity two years ago, Maile Brown, director of marketing, Kaua’i Visitors Bureau, says everything is back to normal.
“It shut down five miles of the north shore, and the road has since opened, but with that opening came some additional restrictions with regards to accessing Hāʻena State Park,” Brown explained. “That’s become a very big issue because the park encompasses the Kalalau Trail, which is world famous. We have visitors who come every year to hike it, and it’s limited the number of people and the number of cars that can access the area, so reservations are required.”
According to Brown, tours to Hāʻena State Park are being sold 30 days in advance, and they sell out immediately.
“I’ve been advising everybody who has clients coming to Kauaʻi to look at their schedules and figure out when they want to up to the area, and make the reservation right away,” Brown said. “People aren’t aware of the new restrictions, and they’re turning away 200 cars per day since June, and it’s very disappointing, because from the town to the check-in point, it’s roughly a 45-minute drive; if they’re being turned away, it’s a disappointing experience."
Brown hopes travel advisors will continue to keep this in mind and inform their clients who are looking to experience the park. Brown notes that there is a shuttle bus now operating to Hāʻena State Park, but the busses only hold 20 passengers, and are also usually sold out.
Over in Oahu, the island is gearing up to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War, after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 marked the United States' formal entry into war the next day.
The island has re-opened the Arizona Memorial, which had been closed for a little over a year following some repair work which prevented visitors from going onto the docks. The memorial is the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
“As of September 1st, ferries are now able to dock and visitors can go walk out to the memorial,” said Karishma Chowfin, director of sales, O'ahu Visitors Bureau. Chowfin anticipates that the State of Hawaii will see a surge in tourism from history buffs who are looking to commemorate the events of the war.
“We’ve seen steady numbers through the years into Oahu, and we’re hoping that this trend continues,” Chowfin said.
According to Julie Yoneyama, director of sales, Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, Maui continues to be a popular point of return for Canadians.
But this year, she’s looking to do things a little bit differently.
“We want to encourage Canadians to break out of their comfort zones, and stop doing the same things they do every single year,” Yoneyama said. A great starting point, she says, is to consider doing something cultural or exploring one of the other islands, like Molokai or Lanaʻi.
Molokai visitation numbers are up by 30 per cent this year. In 2018, Yoneyama says she spent a lot of time promoting Molokai, which is for adventure, and Lanaʻi, which is for luxury, because Maui has a steady stream of visitors.
“For someone who would go to a luxury hotel in Maui every year, we’re trying to tell them to take the ferry and go spend a few nights at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai,” Yoneyama said. “Ninety-percent of that island is owned by Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle. He’s transformed Lanaʻi, into your own private, secluded island; there’s your own snorkelling and scuba boat and fishing charter, private stables, and any kind of private hiking tour or experience you want, it’s all at your fingertips.”
The Four Seasons is currently the only five-star luxury property on Lanaʻi. On Nov. 1, 2019, the Four Seasons Resort, The Lodge at Koele will open, which will offer a spectacular, all-inclusive spa and wellness retreat.
How to see Hawaii
Renting a car remains the best way to make the most out of a vacation to Hawaii, Isbister says, and the tourism board has partnerships with several car rental companies on the island, which makes it easy for your clients to reserve one.
The most important thing, Isbister says, is to really educate your clients on the beauty that each island offers, as many who have never been before can be easily overwhelmed by the array of choice. There are eight major islands of Hawaii, which include: Hawaii (The Big Island), Maui, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, Molokai, Lanaʻi, Niʻihau, and Kahoʻolawe.
From snorkelling and diving, to agro-tourism dining experiences and farm tours, to active adventures, and of course, dreamy destination weddings, Hawaii truly has it all.
The following new hotels are making their way to Hawaii:
- The Mauna Lani Beach Hotel will reopen in January 2020 under the Auberge Resorts Collection
- The Kona Village resort will open in 2021; currently in construction
- As of October 2019, the Courtyard by Marriott Kaua'i at Coconut Beach is now the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort, bringing the total number of Sheraton properties on Kaua'I to three (an hour apart, so make sure the taxi driver knows!)
- Ritz Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, recently opened the second tower last year; luxury condominiums that travel agents can book
- ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach was completely renovated earlier this year, as was the Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger, and the Queen Kapiolani Hotel at the edge of Waikiki
Air Canada and WestJet remain leading Canadian airline partners into Hawaii, and Southwest Airlines recently entered the market and offers inter-island flights. From the west coast, Southwest will bring more service beginning January 2020.
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