|By Robbie Dingeman, The Honolulu
AdvertiserMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 3, 2009 - Marriott Resorts' next big Hawai'i promotional bus tour to Japan in the fall is getting a big boost from retired sumo wrestler Konishiki.
Hawai'i-born Konishiki -- Saleva'a Atisanoe -- was the first foreigner to reach the rank of "ozeki" in Japan's national sport. He will lead Marriott's "Spirit of Aloha Tour" in October.
This tour is inspired by the successful promotional tour the resort chain ran late last year and early this year starting on the U.S. West Coast and extending across the country to the East Coast.
This time, Marriott joins with partners Japan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Polynesian Cultural Center for a drive through three key Japanese cities -- Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo -- in October.
"Led by Hawai'i's favorite son, Konishiki, Marriott's Spirit of Aloha Tour will bring a wave of good will to Japan in promoting Hawai'i as a great vacation destination for travelers seeking to explore the romance and culture of the Hawaiian Islands while enjoying the luxury of a Marriott Hawaii resort," said Ed Hubennette, vice president for North Asia, Hawai'i and South Pacific, Marriott International.
Konishiki has been well-known in recent years, both for a second career as a musician, recording artist and TV variety show host in Japan. In Hawai'i, he has gained attention for his charitable work with the Konishiki Kids Foundation, which raises money for local schools and provides travel grants for local students to visit Japan.
Hubennette said Konishiki's presence is very important to the tour.
And the favorable yen-to-dollar exchange rate also is expected to help encourage more Japanese to visit Hawai'i, he said.
The Japan Tour will visit travel agents and tour wholesale suppliers and make public and media appearances. A specially designed luxury tour bus called "Dream Cruiser Luxury Bus" will be on a seven-day campaign blitz.
As part of Marriott's new relationship with Konishiki, both JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa and Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa have pledged to support Konishiki Kids Ohana Day -- the annual Hawai'i fundraiser at Wet 'n' Wild Hawai'i, Kapolei -- formerly Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park.
The foundation is designed to help broaden the horizons of the children living on O'ahu's Leeward Coast where Konishiki grew up.
"The spirit of aloha only can be shared through people and for me, a local boy from Hawai'i, being part of this tour will create an opportunity to spread aloha by personally representing the beauty of Hawai'i to all of my 'ohana in Japan," Konishiki said.
Marriott International in Hawai'i is represented by six resort hotels on four islands as well as four Marriott Vacation Club International time-share resorts.
Reach Robbie Dingeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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