Public Relations

Hawai‘i Tourism United States: Encouraging Mindful Travel to the Hawaiian Islands

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.

The Challenge

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.”

The Solution

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: 

  • Media and Industry Communications. Anthology shared more than 35 communications pieces with the media and travel trade industry.
  • 2022 Cultural Webinar (April 8, 2022). To forge a deeper understanding with media of cultural representation’s importance in shaping how visitors perceive Hawaiʻi as a travel destination, the Anthology HTUSA PR team hosted a cultural webinar for more than 100 editors and contributors of top-tier U.S. target publications.
  • 2022 Spring Virtual Blitz (April 11-15, 2022). HTUSA and the Island Chapter PR teams organized and hosted a Spring Statewide Hawaiʻi Virtual Media Blitz reaching editors and contributors of more than 30 top-tier publications, including AFAR, Travel + Leisure, Outside, Conde Nast Traveler, and The New York Times.
  • Satellite Media Tour (September 14, 2022). Anthology partnered with CMP Media Café for a satellite media tour at the Hawai‘i Convention Center on O‘ahu sharing information about regenerative tourism with potential visitors and striking an emotional chord motivating them to show care for Hawaiʻi’s places, people, and natural resources when visiting. A total of 22 back-to-back live and taped television interviews with HTA’s president and CEO aired across stations in Hawai‘i’s key target markets, reaching more than 1.5 million viewers.
  • Earned Broadcast Opportunities (April to November 2022). Anthology secured earned broadcast opportunities focused on mindful travel in Hawai‘i with Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom in April 2022, CNN’s “United Shades of America” in August 2022, and ”Entertainment Tonight in October and November 2022.
  • In-Market Media Blitzes (September to November 2022). HTUSA’s Island Chapters executed blitzes in key Hawai‘i markets New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, Portland, and Seattle, holding productive meetings with over 100 media.
  • Individual Hawai‘i Media Visits. HTUSA and the Island Chapter PR teams secured and coordinated 41 media visits to Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island, resulting in features in Forbes, The Seattle Times, Inspirato, The Oregonian, Luxe Beat Magazine, and more.

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.