Friday, May 1, 2009


BEG, CATCH, SHAKE... NOW ROLL OVER AND PLAY DEAD: The half-million-dollar flush down the tourism rat-hole bill that’s been igniting our unruly hair for the last month or so is apparently headed for passage at next Wednesday’s council meeting despite the lack of anything but sketchy details of exactly how the money spent is supposed to increase what was called “heads in beds” by Sue Kanoho, head of the Kaua`i Visitor’s Bureau (KVB) which will reportedly receive $10,000 to forward the checks.

We say “reportedly” and “apparently” because the always incompetent- and probably complicit in keeping the public in the dark- Ho`ike TV has been running black screens where the council meeting is scheduled since the meeting.

But judging by reporter Michael Levine’s story in the local paper, despite attempts by Councilperson Lani Kawahara- who voted “no” on the bill- to bring some sanity to the table, the appropriation, to be matched in next year’s budget for a cool million total, remains wildly popular with the six admittedly brainless councilmembers, one of whom, Finance Committee Chair Darryl Kaneshiro, defended the dearth of pia mater around the table, aptly describing the consideration given the measure by calling it a "no-brainer", according to Levine.

Though presumably, from the two useless (and unreadable) past-visitor-arrivals graphs accompanying the article, something was available to the public, nothing was forthcoming this past Monday at council services when we asked for the details promised the week before.

Levine reports that there is some kind of breakdown, if not any real explanation, of how throwing money will miraculously spur more vacationers to come to Kaua`i.

He reports that

the biggest chunk — $250,000 — would be split among five wholesalers and online travel agent partners in an effort to create additional visitors to the island. Examples of wholesalers include Pleasant Holidays and Blue Sky Tours. Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz are among the online travel agents, according to a list provided by the Kaua`i Visitors Bureau to the council.

And talk about the soft prejudice of lower expectations it’s hard to “see” what this means- other than in a “blind leading the blind” sense of the word.

Kanoho told the council that the promotional efforts would likely not result in any increases, but would instead help stop the bleeding.

“Flat is the new up,” Kanoho joked.

Yeah, and dumb is the new smart.

That’s not the only joke- which unfortunately is on the taxpayer. Because, speaking of bad jokes, those whose needed government services will certainly be left in the cold with the proposed cuts in next year’s proposed budget.

Meanwhile the homeless have nowhere to go except the beaches, public transportation remains a joke for shift workers and dogs have more rights than workers.

Here’s some more nonsensical “projections” apparently pulled out of someone’s ass

(County Economic Development Director George) Costa projected a “conservative” 20 percent differential in room nights produced by five wholesalers or online travel agents — from nearly 17,000 per month during the first quarter of 2009 to a projected amount of more than 20,000 per month.Each room night, on average, features 2.3 visitors, and each visitor, on average, spends $157.40 per day, according to state data.

A differential of more than 3,000 room nights per month would translate to $7.2 million over the six-month duration of the plan, Costa said. That figure does not factor in the multiplier effect of some of that money filtering back through the local economy.

Oooo- he can read a state data chart. He’s a keeper.

Just don’t ask him how the data even remotely relates to the specifics of how this cash fling will, if it does anything at all, just drive visitors from privately and locally-owned bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals to prominently-sponsored, more expensive mainland owned resorts like the Hyatt, Sheridan ,and Regency so they can pay poor, brown people crap wages to tongue-clean rich, white tourists' toilets.

Where were we?

There has been absolutely no explanation at all of how throwing money at these “wholesalers” makes for more tourists and therefore money spent on the island - despite paternalistic unsupported assurances that it will from ex-tourism honcho Vice-Chair Jay Furfaro, Costa and Kanoho.

What exactly do these wholesalers propose to do? Do they place “Kaua`i?” in a physically higher position on their web page? Yeah, that’ll do it. Or maybe if you click on “Mexico” or “Jamaica” it gives you a “did you mean Kaua`i?” redirection- maybe once you buy your Florida package they give you tickets to Lihu`e.

Do they place a special “ad” in their site- yeah, we all know how well on-web-site advertising is... just ask the newspaper industry... or anyone but Google.

Even assuming that they have some sort of scam where when you ask about any vacation elsewhere Kaua`i pops up, what happens when the Bermuda Tourism Authority pays them a million and ONE dollars to make theirs the “choice” destination.

We and others have suggested that if they were going to spend a million dollars. we give out 10,000, hundred dollar vouchers redeemable for cash at Lihu`e airport- or maybe 5000, $200 ones or 3700 for $300.

Of course then they would need competent in-house marketers who can figure out the perfect amount that will successfully entice cash conscious travelers...something they obviously lack considering the harebrained nature of their current scheme.

Knowing the county they’d probably go out and to hire a private hundred-thousand-dollar consultant to find out what the right amount is.

Maybe they should set up some kind of competent and skilled central agency- maybe devoted just to bringing in tourists, .. a sort of bureau- yeah, that’s it- just for visitors, to Kaua`i.

Well it’s just a thought.

So half the cash goes down one single rat-hole. The other half? Levine reports there’s

-$25,000 for a 50th anniversary celebration of iconic film South Pacific,
-$170,000 for a kama`aina campaign encouraging Hawai`i residents and military to travel to Kaua`i from other islands,
-$20,000 for a remote radio show hosted on Kaua`i,
-$25,000 for a “Pacific Northwest Blitz,” as well as the
-$10,000 for a Kaua`i Visitors Bureau Administration fee.

The $170,000 for kama`aina and military are apparently for more proven-to-do-nothing advertising- a stupid side flush where a free interisland air ticket might actually get them here.

And if we’re going to flush 25 grand down the already corporately sponsored “South Pacific” celebration let’s be out front with it with a real appropriation and not hide it by slipping it in with a released-on-the-day-of-committee-approval list that apparently became public only after Kawahara tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to remove it.

We can only hope the six-to-one vote is a sign of things to come.... no, seriously- that’s progress.

Is the “South Pacific” party and a “radio show” (don’t get us started on that one- we’re sure wondering what that will look like... maybe Dickie Chang will host it) the best way to spend tax dollars when we’re lucky we got national stimulus money for “meals on wheels” or the kupuna served might starve when county money runs out because they spent it on this nonsense.

Few who don’t stand to directly financially benefit would disagree that these two items should be the first kind of frivolous expenditure to be cut during lean tax collection times.

But that might run afoul of the state’s “Incumbency Preservation Act” so of course it’s a “no- brainer” for the council to line up at the trough.

What’s disappointing is that no one seems to care. Though as we said we haven’t seen the meeting, we’ll bet dollars to Krispy Kreems that, as happened during the public hearing, no one but the council regulars objected to the expenditure perhaps hoping against hope that it will trickle down – or “domino-down” as one tourism honcho called it at the hearing- to them.

Bones and piss- not even bread and water, just bones and piss... and we have to delude ourselves to think we’ll get that.

The “do something-anything!” hysteria isn’t just local- the hapless pols in congress are even worse, throwing hundreds of billions at the banking and Wall Street crooks who already robbed so that they can keep on doing so. But if we can’t do much to stop it happening 5000 miles away there’s no excuse for this kind of ostrich behavior here at home.

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