Are Hawai’i Lawmakers Abandoning Tourism?

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a building with glass walls and trees

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Fix the roof but let the head roll.

The future of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is uncertain as a recent proposed state budget bill does not include funding for the organization. Zero, nada.

That’s right, if you are new to the party the HTA is the organization that is…

...responsible for protecting the iconic brand of the Hawaiian Islands. This includes perpetuating the Hawaiian culture, preserving Hawaii's natural environment, and strengthening communities by managing tourism in a way that helps improve the quality of life for residents, families and communities on all islands.

HTA claims that this lack of funding would prevent them from continuing with their tourism management plans and supporting community events and cultural programs.

Additionally, two bills propose dismantling HTA and folding it into the State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, which HTA believes would create challenges for supporting community programs and managing tourism effectively.

This is what has me concerned the most as Hawaii lawmakers have proven time and time again that they are not up to the task of managing large dynamic projects in a competitive landscape.

We are talking about tourism in Hawaii, our largest source of revenue and I haven’t heard one peep from DBEDT on how it will handle the transition if it goes through. A scary time indeed.

$64 million has been allocated to repair the roof at the Hawaii Convention Center, after allocating $15 million last year for a quick fix. This negatively impacted our ability to bring in large conventions and indicates the lack of understanding by lawmakers on timelines and revenue generation.

an escalators in a building
Hawaii Convention Center Interior

Hawaii Tourism Authority recently had its Spring update, which I attended, and CEO John De Fries gave some interesting closing remarks, you can watch it below.

YouTube player

It’s not the end yet as this heads to both chambers for a final vote and approval by Governor Josh Green but the manner in which this is proceeding and the impact it will have on everyone who calls Hawaii home is concerning.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Just discovered your blog. Nice! Love Hawai’i. In Kauai’i right now. Looking forwarding to seeing more of your writings.

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