Teresa Cosgrove, Sales Manager, Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, Lea-Ann Goltz, Account Manager, Western Canada, VoX International, and Deanna Isbister, Director of Sales, Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau.
Karen McKay and Mimi Villamov, Expedia Cruise Ship Centres, with Manju Maniyan, Skyland Travel Escapes.
Chris Styles, Expedia Cruise Ship Centres with Jen Smith, Travel Best Bets.
Cultural practitioner and artist Micah Kamohoali’i with Lori A Flores of Castle Resorts & Hotels, Robert Hatfield of Grand Naniloa Hotel and Alani Lui of Outrigger Resorts.
Teresa Cosgrove, with Uilani Kanda of Marriott Resort Waikoloa Beach and Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.
50 travel agents from across the Lower Mainland -- some of them in their brightest Hawaiian shirts -- flocked to Richmond’s Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport this week to hear the latest tourism updates from representatives of the Big Island of Hawaii, following May’s headline-grabbing eruption of Kilauea volcano.
The Island of Hawaii Showcase is the visitor bureau’s only Canadian stop on its tour of West Coast cities. Along for the ride are representatives from Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, Marriott Resort Waikoloa Beach, Outrigger Resorts, Kona Natural Soap Company, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Castle Resorts & Hotels and Grand Naniloa Hotel, as well as traditional cultural practitioner and artist, Micah Kamohoali’i.
And the big verdict on Kilauea, according to Deanna Isbister, director of sales at the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, is that there’s nothing but clear skies on Hawaii Island.
“People were subject to what they saw on television,” she explained. “A lot of times on TV they would show the picture of the eruption a week after it happened. People also didn’t understand the location. The activity took place in an area of 12 square miles, when our island is over 4,000 square miles.”
And the really great news? The island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is set to reopen on 22SEPT.
“The park, it’s going to change a little,” explained Isbister. “Currently there is no way to access Kilauea by land, but a lot of people are still going via helicopter. They know they’re not going to see that lava anymore, because the volcano has paused, but they want to see what happened there; they want to see the path. So air tours are still popular. By sea, four boat tours are permitted to operate. It’s not that people are going to see lava pouring into the ocean, but they want to learn; they want to see what happened there.”
So what should Canadian travel agents say to reassure those clients who are reluctant to book a Big Island vacation right now?
“The main thing is to share the resources that are available,” added Isbister. “Thegohawaii.comwebsite is the place to get updates. If they have any questions or are a little bit wary,gohawaii.comhas all the answers.
“And if you’ve been worried that the air quality isn’t good on Hawaii, right now everything has cleared. There’s nothing but clear skies on the Island of Hawaii.”
Vickie Sam Paget Western Correspondent
Hailing from the UK, Vickie Sam Paget is a travel and tourism storyteller located in Vancouver, BC. When she’s not on the road, creating engaging travel content or gazing at the North Shore Mountains, you can usually find her curled up with a good book or sipping a pint of the good stuff in her local Irish bar.