comscore Big Isle tourism campaign gets love in Ohio | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Lee Cataluna

Big Isle tourism campaign gets love in Ohio

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    Visitors toured the Mauna Loa visitor center on Sunday. Businesses on Hawaii island are being encouraged to post photos and videos showing the beauty of the island and include the hashtags #ExploreIslandofHawaii and #VisitIslandofHawaii.

Aw, somebody send Drew and Cindy some mac nuts.

HVCB, the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau, the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and Kona- Kohala Chamber of Commerce have launched a social media campaign to convince would-be travelers to come to Hawaii despite everything they’ve seen and heard about the volcano.

Businesses on Hawaii island are being encouraged to post photos and videos showing the beauty of the island and include the hashtags #ExploreIslandofHawaii and #VisitIslandofHawaii.

The images that have thus far popped up on Twitter and Instagram include the most perfect rainbow over Kahua Ranch in Waimea, girls happily eating shave ice in Hilo and a family smiling on a Captain Zodiac ride along a calm shoreline. The message is that Hawaii island is open for business and there’s lots to do without getting near the frightening lava or getting in the way of residents trying to cope with the eruption.

Meanwhile, Drew and Cindy Abas, a married couple from Ohio, spontaneously became part of the effort. They were interviewed by their local TV news about their recent trip to Hawaii. Usually, when people are interviewed about their vacation, it’s because something bad happened. This time it was because nothing bad happened. The family spent a week on Hawaii island in May, and Drew and Cindy calmly told the folks at home in Cincinnati that their trip was great.

“There was nothing about the volcano that influenced our trip at all. No ash, no cloud,” Drew Abas told WCPO consumer reporter John Matarese.

“We were actually hoping to see something, feel the earthquakes, but there was nothing,” Cindy Abas said.

The couple shared vacation photos of themselves and their kids having a fun time and described a relaxing week that, partly because of the downturn in tourism, measured up to their idea of a Hawaii vacation.

“We felt like we had the resort to ourselves, as well as the island,” Cindy Abas said. “There were many times we were driving and there was no one on the roads.”

The story had a few bumps in it of the sort Hawaii residents are accustomed to seeing whenever outside media covers local stories. It didn’t include odd phrases like “Polynesian jungle” the way The New York Times did, but they did spell Kilauea as “Kilhuea,” and at one point the reporter stood at an Ohio lakeside recreation area and said that despite all the scary video of the Hawaii eruption, most of Hawaii still looks like this — like the lake in Ohio. Um, not really.

Drew and Cindy even assured folks at home that volcanic smoke and ash didn’t affect their trip because the tradewinds were blowing the haze out to sea. The best part is their look on their faces when they’re asked again if traveling to Hawaii is safe. Cindy gets this look — not quite an eye roll, but a pause. Yes, they affirm. It’s safe. We were safe. You’ll be safe. Go and have a good time. #thanksDrewandCindy

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Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or

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