Situation Analysis of Hawaii’s Living Reef Program

Introduction

Hawaii is an island state which belongs to the United States and is located West of USA. The residents of the Hawaii Island since time immemorial have been known to attach great importance to the coral reefs. These have provided them with a vital source of livelihood for many centuries (Glazier & Petterson, 2008). They even have a deeply entrenched culture revolving around the coral reefs as a result. Today it is widely recognized that there exists close interdependence between the island lifestyle and the coral reef ecosystem. The living Reef program has operated under a logo called “A Living Reef Gives Our Islands Life”.

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The Hawaii Living Reef Program aims at creating public awareness of the importance of the living coral reef ecosystem and its contribution to the Hawaii lifestyle (Coral Reef Outreach Network, 2005). The move was informed by a research carried out on the island and funded by the Nature Conservancy and Malama Hawaii which found out that there was a poor public attitude and lack of awareness of nature conservancy. During the survey it was also discovered that the society recognized the depletion of reef resources as a major environmental issue. This comes amidst a background of threat of destruction through pollution and economic exploitation by the residents. Another goal of the program is to inculcate and encourage positive behavior amongst the residents of Hawaii (Matsumoto, 2009). It also aims to encourage collaborative efforts geared towards the conservation of the coral reefs. To achieve this goal, the program is working with various stakeholders who include the department of land and Natural resources, the division of Aquatic resources and non-governmental organizations (Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources & Hawaii Ecotourism Association, not dated).

Product package

The most important tourist package in Hawaii is the spectacular scenery that dominates the island. The island is also made of a ring of islands with beautiful volcanic formations which have gained prominence as a popular tourist destination. This is enhanced by beautiful sandy beaches and millions of marine life. The waters of the island are home to unique collection of reef animals out of which 25% do not live anywhere else in the world. These sandy beaches are made from pieces of coral, urchins, shells, and calcified algae which are found in the ocean. In addition to these are a group of warm water reef fishes only exclusively found on the island. Apart from the splendid scenery, sporting has been packaged as one of the important tourism products manifested in form of big wave surfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling (Coral Reef Outreach Network, 2004).

Target audience

The Living Reef program along with the promotional campaign was directed towards the residents of the island. These are the major stakeholders in the reef conservancy program. This is because to ensure success in any of the conservancy and marketing efforts, they had to be incorporated into the program (The Nature Conservancy, 2009). This required the program initiators to inculcate the ownership of the program alongside the intended strategies. And as I mentioned earlier, the reef occupies a special place in the lives of the native residents. Yet another target audience was the tourists who would be reached through promotional campaigns. The organizers engaged in a branding campaign aimed at increasing the number of visitors to the island which is an important source of foreign exchange. The business community was also an important target as it is one of the major beneficiaries of the tourist industry.

A sizeable proportion of the business in Hawaii is directly and indirectly dependent on the proceeds from tourism. Thus their input is crucial in the development of the tourist industry and also to sponsor efforts towards the conservation of the coral reefs. The state authorities which are involved in formulation of policies and regulations are also an important target group owing to the prime position they occupy in the society. It is through their support that the program has been able to achieve unprecedented levels of success. There are also a number of interest groups which include environmental activists who were also targeted by the program. Their input for a long time has been very valuable in the running of the industry.

Analysis of the current market environment

The current market environment of the living coral reef is dominated by stiff competition from several reefs around the world. Many of these reefs receive financial backing from the government which increases their leverage in the market. Many of those countries with such reefs especially The Great Barrier Reef in Australia have intensified their marketing campaigns (Adventures, 2009). All these countries are aiming at marketing their countries as the preferred choice of destination. This has posed serious competition from Hawaii’s living reef program which is determined to position itself as a global leader in living reef conservancy and as a formidable tourist destination in the world.

Competitive analysis

The greatest competition to the Hawaii living reef comes from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This is the most famous barrier reef in the world (Australia Adventures, 2009). However, Hawaii still has a competitive advantage over it due to comprehensive marketing, promotional strategies, and conservancy programs which have helped the country receive greater number of tourists. Hawaii is also strategically located between two lucrative markets of America and west Asia making it an important convergent point that tends to give it an edge over the Great Barrier Reef.

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Another reef that poses great competition to the Living Reefs is the Island of Guam in the Western pacific which forms one of the most spectacular sites on the planet. Coco Island which is part of the islands is one of the most popular tourist destinations for day trips. Other parts of the island’s reefs are the fringing reef a few miles from the Philippines. One main source of unique attraction on the island is its parks and the underwater Poseidon resorts which are quite fascinating to the tourists (Spalding, Ravilious & Green, not dated). Their weakest point is their high vulnerability to the typhoons which causes a lot of damages to the reefs. This disadvantages them when compared to the Hawaii islands.

The islands of the republic of Belau are also a force to contend with when it comes to reef tourism competition. These are surrounded by beautiful fringing reefs which form an eye-catching site for tourists (Spalding, Ravilious & Green, not dated). The reefs occupy a number of islands that form the republic. Their attractiveness is backed by the presence of historical basalt rock structures created by the ancient civilization that was created as an aquatic city. This adds to the attractiveness of the island as a tourist destination. However, the island’s tourist industry is not as well established as the Hawaii living reefs. The latter has better tourist infrastructure and better organizational structures which gives them an edge over the former.

Industry size and growth

The marine industry is big and is growing at a very fast rate. Its full potential is still largely untapped. The venture is thus very viable given support and relevant input in terms of the right market strategies. The global volume of marine tourism in 2004 was worth €168bn (marine institute, 2005). Tourism in Hawaii accounts for 25% of the state’s GDP and a third of its jobs (Thomas, 2009). This shows that the industry is still lucrative and has a promising future that is yet to be fully harnessed. Marine tourism has attracted the attention of conservationists leading to a wave of environmental consciousness across the globe thus helping awareness of such areas as coral reefs. Endangered sceneries and species are gaining increasing prominence by visitors thus increasing tourists’ volumes and revenues. This has promoted the growth of the industry taking it to newer greater heights.

Market Segmentation

High-income tourists are responsible for most of the marine tourist visits in Hawaii. This is mainly a result of the higher disposable incomes within the segment. Scuba diving and snorkeling for instance are popular with youthful high-end tourists who frequent the islands during the summer holidays. This is the group that is quite adventurous and fun-loving. Their major occupation is to find unique experiences to engage in.

Promotional strategies

To promote the islands as an important tourist destination, the program organizers have embarked on a series of promotional campaigns mainly through broadcast and print media using television, magazines, newsletters and radio advertisements. To deliver the message in this media they integrate both visuals and messages to reach a larger audience more effectively. They have also collaborated with media companies to deliver timely press releases on local, national, and international markets. Opinion articles, monthly emails and articles have been sent to stakeholders in all the federal states of the United States to bolster their support on protection and management of the coral reef resources.

The first step towards achieving the support of the stakeholders to promote the island was to convince them to buy the ideas and own them. They were to assist in creation of awareness, protection of the coral reefs and enhancement of the programs geared towards promoting the course (Division of aquatic resources, not dated). The targeted groups included industrial organizations such as the Hawaii Hotel association, the fishing industry association which consisted of commercial and fishing organizations and the ocean recreation industrial players who include diving associations and snorkeling. Others consisted of cruise operators, educators, and the government department related to the industry. The approach is expected to marshal the grassroots support to promote the course of the tourist industry.

Market communication

One of the most important tools of communication was the creation and enhancement of a website that would serve as a resource center, mobilization of resources and dissemination of important information to the stakeholders. It would also create linkages with supporting agencies hence helping to mobilize their support and to coordinate activities. An award scheme was also unveiled to recognize efforts in reef conservancy. This would encourage more stakeholders to take a keener role in the conservation efforts which form part of the promotional campaigns. Symposiums have also been used to deliver important communication to the stakeholders. To deliver messages through the media they integrate both visuals and messages to reach a larger audience more effectively. Joint collaborations with media companies have helped to deliver timely press releases on local, national, and international markets. Stakeholders in all the federal states of the United States are sent opinion articles and monthly emails to bolster their support on protection and management of the coral reef resources.

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SWOT analysis

Strength

The greatest strength of Hawaii’s living Reef Program lies in its ability to integrate environmental conservation and protection initiatives with market promotion strategies within its organizational framework. This has enabled the program to enhance fast and efficient marketing of the living Reef as a leading tourist attraction in the world. The end result has been an enormous increase in the number of visitors and a significant drop in the destruction of the reef through pollution. In addition, it has enabled the organization achieve heavy support from environmental conservationists and other environmental-conscious tourists across the world.

The coral reef outreach network alongside the Hawaii’s living reef program also has built strong network within the community and other key stakeholders in the industry which include Hotel owners associations, cruise ship operators, divers associations, government agencies, and interest groups. This has facilitated the efficient transfer of information among the key stakeholders. The collaboration has also helped built important synergies hence enabling the quicker realization of the intended results. In the process, the local community has also bought the ideas and hence facilitated ownership of the conservation initiatives which has contributed to achievement of unprecedented levels of success. These determined efforts have definitely placed it ahead of its competitors.

Administrative costs have greatly been reduced in the process boosting the earnings of the island from tourism. This is because most non-technical tasks have been escalated to other stakeholders in the community who perform them on volunteer basis. Collaborative efforts with the media have also helped to lower the cost of tourism market promotion. In addition, the strong support of the government has served to create a favorable environment to build the tourism industry and also to promote the conservation campaign through its regulatory framework.

Another great strength is the beautiful scenery with a coastline made of sandy beaches and volcanic formations which have drawn a lot of attention from tourists across the world. The unique marine life never found anywhere else in the world has become a huge strength for the program. As I mentioned earlier, 25% of the species on the shoreline are exclusive to the island.

Weakness

Despite spirited attempts to market the country as the tourist destination of the choice, the country has not been able to effectively tap visitors from emerging markets such as China, Russia, India, and Brazil. In addition, visitors from Japan have been declining in recent years posing a threat to the industry. The program has also not succeeded in curbing overexploitation of resources especially from the coral reef and fisheries hence dealing a cropper to the conservatory initiatives of the Coral Reef Outreach Network which runs the program. Pollution of the coral reef has still continued despite concerted efforts to reduce it. There still exists loose regulatory framework to govern the protection of the environment. As a result it has become very hard to prevent depletion of the natural resources and pollution of the environment by the visitors and companies.

Opportunities

Massive opportunities still lie ahead in the largely untapped markets of South America and also the emerging markets often referred to as BRIC which have been experiencing a rise in incomes. The Southern markets of Venezuela, Panama, Dominican Republic and Colombia present an opportunity for Hawaii tourist industry to dig deeper into the markets and earn more revenues. The increasing relative stability and the rising incomes should be an incentive for Hawaii to intensify its market promotional initiatives in the region. The emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China likewise have presented a window of opportunity for stakeholders in the Hawaii tourism industry. More aggressive measures therefore ought to be taken to tap the potential of these markets. The collaborative effort between the network and the media is a good opportunity for Hawaii to market its tourist package more aggressively. The willingness of the natives to own the conservation strategies should also be a great opportunity for the program to mobilize the local resources towards sustainable tourism.

Threats

Despite the conservation initiatives undertaken, the island continues to be plagued by the problem of environmental pollution and overexploitation of natural sources. The problem of over exploitation of the fisheries and harvesting of the corals, which are in high demand in USA is a threat to the future of the tourist attraction. The rising population on the island has continued to place immense pressure on the natural resources leading to the overexploitation. As a result the fish stocks have been declining for the last hundred years. The rise in the demand for coral jewelry and coral carvings has become a threat to the coral reefs whose harvesting has grown tremendously.

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The island has also been invaded by alien species of plants and animals on its shorelines which posed a threat to the marine life. These have been predating and sometimes transmitting diseases and pests to the local species leading to reduction in their populations. The trend is threatening to bring the huge industry to its knees if not checked. Apart from these, human activity is also a big threat to the program due to the adverse effect it has on the marine environment. Agricultural activities lead to siltation and release of chemicals to the ocean which results in pollution of the ocean waters and death of some ocean life. There has also been rising release of sewage waste from cesspools and chemical waste from factories into the shores posing a huge threat to the marine life. Marine debris such as abandoned and discarded fishing gear also contributes to the death of the coral reef.

Another threat to the program is the increasing competition from other coral reef beaches across the world. Indeed the greatest threat is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This has continued to attract tourists to drones hence posing a high threat of hiving a sizeable market share from the Hawaii islands. Others like the Islands of Guam are also increasing in prominence hence threatening the position of the Hawaii as a global tourist force. The previous recession has had an adverse effect on the tourist arrivals. As a result many tourists have resulted in huge cuts in their expenditure hence leading to a reduction in tourism revenues. This has forced hotels and tour operators to scale down their output resulting in a reduction in incomes and employment.

Conclusion

Hawaii is an island state which is part of the United States and is located West of America. The residents since time immemorial have attached great importance to the coral reefs. These have provided them with a vital source of livelihood for many centuries. They even have a deeply entrenched culture revolving around the coral reefs as a result. The most important tourist package in Hawaii is the spectacular scenery that dominates the island. The island is also made of a ring of islands with beautiful volcanic formations which have gained prominence as a popular tourist destination. This is enhanced by beautiful sandy beaches and millions of marine life. The waters of the island are home to unique collection of reef animals of which 25% do not live anywhere else in the world.

The Islands marine industry is big and is growing at a very fast rate. Its full potential is still largely untapped as evident by the limited number of tourism attraction sites. The tourism venture is thus very viable given support and relevant input in terms of the right market strategies. The major strength of Hawaii’s living Reef Program is its ability to integrate environmental conservation and protection initiatives with market promotion strategies within its organizational framework. In addition, it has enabled the organization achieve immense support from interest groups and other environmental-conscious tourists across the world.

Reference

Australia Adventures, (2009). Great Barrier Reef, a Watery Wonderland of Coral Reefs and Tropical Islands. Web.

Coral Reef Outreach Network, (2005). Hawaii living reef program. Web.

Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources & Hawaii Ecotourism Association, Hawaii’s Local Action Strategy to Address Recreational Impacts to Reefs. Web.

Division of aquatic resources. Local Action Strategy: Lack of Awareness. Web.

Glazier, E. & Petterson, J. (2008). Human Dimensions Analysis of Hawaii’s Ika-Shibi Fishery. Web.

Matsumoto, T. (2009). Community education program. Web.

Spalding, M.D. Ravilious, C., and Green, E.P. World Atlas of Coral Reefs. Web.

The Nature Conservancy, (2009). Hawaii marine: Dive into Hawaii’s Living Reef. Web.

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