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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, January 31, 2002

Travel congress may mean boost here

By Janis L. Magin
Associated Press

Hawai'i tourism could get a boost of up to 20 percent next year after 6,000 travel agents converge on the Islands for their annual convention, the event's chairwoman said here yesterday.

"These 6,000 people probably represent billions of dollars in consumer spending," said Susan Tanzman, chairwoman of the 2002 American Society of Travel Agents World Travel Congress, which will be held at the Hawai'i Convention Center Nov. 3-8.

"The impact on tourism in this state is going to be tremendous," she said.

The organization last met in Hawai'i in 1981, when 3.93 million visitors came to Hawai'i, no change from the previous year.

The number of domestic visitors to the state the following year jumped 10.6 percent, and the total number of visitors, domestic and international, rose 7.6 percent, to 4.2 million, said Pearl Imada Iboshi, state economist at the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

Tanzman, who owns Martin's Travel & Tours in Los Angeles, said Hawai'i has an appeal that is easy to sell, especially in the post-Sept.-11 market, when travelers crave safety and tranquility.

"What makes Hawai'i more exciting than other warm-weather destinations — it's the people, the aloha spirit," she said. "It's nice to spend your tourism dollars where people appreciate you and people are nice."

The goal of the congress is to educate agents so they will be knowledgeable about the islands for their clients, she said.

Among seminars offered will be one on specializing in Hawai'i and Oahu. Agents will also be encouraged to take day trips to the Big Island, Kaua'i, Lana'i, Maui and Moloka'i to experience activities their clients would be interested in. On Oahu, for example, that could include a cooking class at the University of Hawai'i, or from Maui, taking a snorkeling cruise to Molokini.

Hawai'i chefs and restaurants also will be featured, and agents will be encouraged to take menus home to their clients.

ASTA's more than 20,000 members represent just under half of all U.S. travel agents.