A marketing initiative by the Hawaii Convention Center to help association clients build international attendance resulted in a 10 percent increase in foreign visitors at Hawaii meetings last year.

Through its Global Outreach Program, HCC staff connects associations with sister associations and exhibitors in Asia, and creates meeting “microsites” with critical information about a meeting—housing, agendas, etc.—translated into a variety of languages, including Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean.

While the program has been focused on marketing meetings to Asian countries, this summer HCC rolls out its first European microsite to promote the 2009 American Dental Association convention, says Randy Tanaka, assistant general manager at the HCC. With the European microsite, HCC and ADA officials hope to attract European professionals who want to connect with their Asian and American counterparts.

The HCC has generated a projected 700,000 room nights for fiscal 2009, its highest total ever, thanks in part to its international outreach efforts. Whether that number will be negatively affected by rising fuel prices and the loss of two prime air carriers to bankruptcy—Aloha Airlines and ATA—remains to be seen.

The one-two punch that saw Aloha and ATA go belly up in the span of a week in early April led to an immediate loss of routes and a spike in airfares. However, in recent weeks, fares have leveled off as more flights to Hawaii have been added to meet the demand. So far, convention attendance has not been affected, says Tanaka. Whether routes continue to be added depends on travel volume, he adds. With Hawaii’s busiest season, summer, upcoming, tourism officials will soon find out if demand remains high.