On March 1, 2022, then-Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige announced the state’s two-year Safe Travels program for domestic travelers would end on March 25, 2022. Launched early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Safe Travels’ mission was to limit the spread of coronavirus statewide. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the State of Hawai‘i agency responsible for strategically managing the Hawaiian Islands’ tourism industry, issued a news release sharing Ige’s announcement with industry stakeholders and partners, and media across the U.S.
The governor’s momentous announcement signaled the Hawaiian Islands were ready to welcome domestic visitors back after seeing tourism — its No. 1 industry – vanish for nearly two years following the state’s March 2020 lockdown. Annual visitor arrivals to the state had careened from millions in 2019 to thousands between 2020 and 2022.
With word quickly spreading that Hawai‘i’s tourism industry was ready to roll again, Hawai‘i Tourism United States (HTUSA), HTA’s brand marketing contractor for the U.S. market, launched its Mālama Hawai‘i visitor education campaign. The campaign was created to assure travelers were aware of current circumstances in the Islands during their visit and provide practical information about being responsible and mindful visitors as Hawai‘i was ramped up for tourism again. The Hawaiian language word mālama means “to care for” or “to take care of.”
Though launched in 2021, the Mālama Hawai‘i campaign accelerated following the governor’s March 2022 announcement. The campaign invited travelers to experience the Islands on a deeper level, emphasizing connecting with Hawai‘i’s culture while here, giving back to Hawai‘i through volunteering and preservation efforts, and following safe health practices.
Anthology helped HTUSA execute a full court press educating media as quickly and effectively as possible from April 2022 through year’s end. Our goal was to inspire journalists to include and underscore in their coverage the significance of the Mālama Hawai‘i campaign and the meaning and benefits of being a mindful traveler in the Islands. The message was an important one for HTUSA and Hawai‘i to share, encouraging first-time and return visitors to the Islands to share resident values of caring for our island home through their actions.
Featured articles in Travel and Leisure (left) and Fordor's Travel (right).
Led by Anthology’s HTUSA public relations team, our efforts included critical support from HTUSA’s Island Chapter PR teams representing Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and Hawai‘i Island.
Highlights of the campaign included:
Featured article in National Geographic.
Anthology’s efforts related to HVCB’s Mālama Hawai‘i campaign have earned editorial features in key publications nationwide, collectively generating more than 150 million impressions and approximately $2 million in publicity value across print, digital, and broadcast media. Media outlets posting features include ABC News, AFAR, Backpacker, Business Traveler, CNN Travel, Fodor’s, Good Morning America, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The Seattle Times, Travel + Leisure, TravelAge West, Vacationer, and more.
In 2022, more than 9.4 million visitors arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, representing an 89 percent recovery from 2019’s 10.4 million visitors. Total Hawai‘i visitor spending in 2022 was $19.29 billion, up 8.9 percent from $17.72 billion in 2019.
Hawai‘i continues to see a positive recovery in visitor arrivals and spending following the pandemic. Anthology’s work with HTUSA and educating visitors through the Mālama Hawai‘i campaign continues as well.