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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted at 9:32 a.m., Friday, July 25, 2003

HVCB loses key regions in marketing contract

By Kelly Yamanouchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau has lost parts of its marketing contract and for the first time will no longer market to Europe, Oceania, Japan and the rest of Asia.

HVCB lost about $8 million of a $25.25 million contract and will no longer be Hawai'i's primary tourism marketing agency promoting the Islands around the world starting January 1.

Tokyo advertising agency Dentsu Inc. was chosen to market Hawai'i in Japan under a $6.3 million contract. Another Japanese agency, Marketing Garden, will get about $850,000 to market Hawai'i to the rest of Asia. Mangum Group will market Hawai'i to Europe for about $750,000 and Walshe Group will be awarded a contract of less than $500,000 for marketing to Oceania, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority said.

That means HVCB, which has been selling the Islands to visitors around the world for years, will now primarily market to North America. It will also keep a $1.4 million budget for marketing corporate meetings and incentives in Hawai'i.

The loss of major portions of the contract follows the release of a critical audit of HVCB and the resignation of its president, Tony Vericella, after he admitted to using about $1,000 in state funds for personal uses.

All of the agencies will work with the neighbor island visitor bureaus on O'ahu, Maui, Kaua'i and the Big Island, which will remain branches of HVCB.

Other bidders that did not win contracts include Japan-based Asatsu-DK, Loomis Inc., Ogilvy & Mather, Tiger Oak Publications and GCI Group.

The tourism authority decided in a unanimous vote yesterday to approve its marketing committee's recommendation to award contracts to bidders other than HVCB. The marketing committee made its recommendation based on three days of presentations before the audit of HVCB was released.

According to the committee, the decision to allocate parts of the contract to other companies was based on the merit of proposals.

The tourism authority has not yet negotiated the contracts with the winners, so all of the amounts released are estimates.

But plans are to include strict accountability measures in the contracts as part of the authority's effort to respond to the criticisms outlined in the audit.

Reach Kelly Yamanouchi at 535-2470, or at kyamanouchi@honoluluadvertiser.com.