For Tuesday July 15, 2003

Media travel

The question of whether paying the media to travel with elected officials is a wise decision is an easy answer for The Garden Island to answer.

In the 1980s a reporter traveled with Mayor Tony Kunimura on a visitor promotion swing during the Island’s recovery from Hurricane ‘Iwa. The newspaper received criticism far and wide for allowing a reporter to be paid.

We learned our lesson.

Looking back, and at the current situation with KITV’s trip to Japan that was paid for by the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau, news reporters – be they on television, radio, in print or online – need to remain financially independent from the sources and subjects of their news reporting.

Having your airfare, hotel rooms, meals paid for beholdens a reporter, and in turn a news organization, to whomever pays for those items. If a news story is one strong enough to attract the media the funds can be made available for major news outlets from within their own organizations.

Mayor’s Japan trip

Bringing more Japanese visitors to Kaua’i is a tough task for the tourism promoters who joined Mayor Bryan Baptiste on his visit to Tokyo and Osaka last week. Japanese travel to the Island is down about 50 percent over the past year, and bringing back visitors from that nation will require something new from Kaua’i.

In general, the typical Japanese visitors enjoys night life and fine shopping, two areas that Kaua’i has, but not to the level found in Honolulu or large mainland cities. Kaua’i has become popular with what’s known as free and independent travelers, ones from Japan that enjoy hiking, snorkeling and surfing in our spectacular environment.

Mayor Baptiste did firm up Kaua’i’s ties with travel industry leaders in Japan. A mayor of a visitor destination the size of Kaua’i must make such connections in the world of Japanese travel, as well as making a connection with government officials there. Travelers from Japan still spend millions each year on Kaua’i, and it is important to keep this connection strong, even if the Japanese visitor count is down.


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