After appointing Hawaii Tourism Ambassadors in India, Singapore, and Colombia, the Hawaii Tourism Association (HiTA) is now expanding to the highest spending region on the globe with the appointment of Walter R. Dias partner of Unique Choice in Doha, Qatar. Mr. Dias is an Indian by origin and was born in Tanga, Tanzania. He holds a Portuguese nationality and has been living in the Middle East for the past 32 years. This unique combination of blended diversified cultures, along with traveling extensively throughout the world, has molded Mr. Dias into a dynamic personality. Mr. Dias is the IATA coordinator for Qatar long distant educational program, and he is a charter member of Toastmasters International, a worldwide leadership and communication organization and a member of the Indian Business&Professional Network (IBPN) under the aegis of The Indian Embassy, Qatar.
Unique Choice is a global travel network with branch offices in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Australia, as well as associate offices in Switzerland, the UK, Hungary, Egypt, and the US. They are wholesalers of accommodation, destination management, cruises, tour packages, and car rentals, and also assist with transfers, European rail, and visas. Unique Choice has received numerous awards including Best Foreign Tour Operator for West Africa/Asia from Malaysia Tourism and the Quality Tourism from the Middle East award from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, HiTA President, traveled to Qatar last week to meet with Mr. Dias. Mr. Steinmetz said: I’m impressed with Mr. Dias and his organization. It’s well suited to establish Hawaii as a new and potential market not only for Qatar, but also for Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. His pavilion stand at the Arabian Travel Market showed that he and his company are well suited to include Hawaii in their travel programs.
“The potential from the Gulf region is unlimited. For the most part, here, money is not a concern, and with a mix of nationals and ex-patriots from all over the world, plus access to numerous direct air links to the US, it makes it an easy task for Hawaii to establish itself in the region. I listened to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole being piped out over the music system while I had a cup of coffee at Starbucks in Doha, Qatar. All over the world people may not know exactly what ‘aloha’ means, but they have all heard about the ‘aloha spirit’ and wish to one day experience it for themselves.”
Gulf visitors are used to spending an enormous amount of money when they travel. Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Gulf Air, Saudi Airlines, and Oman Air all have direct access to US gateways. Emirates, for example, flies to Los Angeles nonstop from Dubai twice a day, once a day to San Francisco, and is starting daily service to Seattle soon. The same airlines connect to Hawaii through Japan, Korea, or Taiwan. It should be a priority for the Hawaii tourism to work with the private industry to prepare for this market.
HiTA is currently working with US commercial services to provide informational events for the Hawaiian visitor industry. Anyone in the visitor industry can work with HiTA and receive business from this lucrative market.