Kusaka has one last Japan trip, at invitation of sister cities, others

The Mayor Maryanne Kusaka aloha tour began in earnest at the December annual meeting of the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau last year.

Now, at the request of Kaua’i sister cities and business and industry leaders in Japan, the mayor is beginning a Kaua’i promotional tour of Asia.

She will attend the Japan-Hawaii Economic Council meeting in early October, in Yokohama. Due to many requests from tourism and governmental entities in Japan for Kusaka to say her alohas in person she is arranging to arrive in advance of the annual meeting of the economic council.

Kusaka asked Sue Kanoho, KVB executive director, to accompany her, along with other Kaua’i tourism leaders who can make the trip, so that Kusaka may introduce them as she ceremonially passes the tourism-promotion torch, said Kanoho.

“It’s an important market,” Kanoho said of Japan. “They’re coming to Waikiki and O’ahu.”

By delivering the specific message that Kaua’i’s splendid scenery, world-class golf and space for romance make it worth coming for more than a day trip, Kusaka’s last trip to Japan will be a perfect time to sell a several-day Kaua’i experience, she continued.

People are quick to forget that for the first eight months of last year, visitor arrivals to Kaua’i from Japan were up 15 percent from the same period in 2000, Kanoho said.

“They have done much for Kaua’i,” Kanoho said not only of those who have decided to visit Kaua’i on vacation, but those who have arranged for student or adult exchange visits and cultural exchanges, and those who have opened doors to both governmental and visitor-oriented connections.

“We have to continue selling Kaua’i as a unique destination,” said Kanoho.

Kusaka won a special Mahalo Award from the Hawai’i Visitors & Convention Bureau at the HVCB’s 100th Annual Luncheon last week on O’ahu, in recognition of her outstanding support of tourism for Hawai’i and, especially, Kaua’i.

“Mayor Kusaka has been instrumental in leading the recovery of Kaua’i’s tourism industry,” said Tony Vericella, HVCB president and chief executive officer.

“She has been a frequent participant in marketing efforts organized by Kaua’i Visitors Bureau and HVCB, and her gracious spirit of aloha epitomizes why Hawai’i is such a beloved place with visitors worldwide,” he said.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Kusaka made several trips to key markets overseas, further helping to promote Kaua’i, Vericella commented.

“I was so surprised,” Kusaka said after receiving the award. “I’ve always felt it was my responsibility to assist our visitor industry in marketing our island,” Kusaka said.

“That’s what a mayor should do. It has been such a pleasure and an honor to represent Kaua’i, and I will continue to do so,” she said. “We all should be good ambassadors for our beautiful Kaua’i and our state.”

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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