Hawaii Tourism Finished? HTA Chief about to escape to Colorado
The emergency for the Hawaii visitor sector became even greater today when Chris Tatum, President of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, indicated his no-confidence vote on Monday and announced he will be relocating to Colorado for an unexpected and early retirement, leaving the Aloha State behind.
Chris Tatum is the President of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state agency responsible for Hawaii’s largest industry – the Hawaii visitor industry. Everyone in the state was looking to and banking on Mr. Chris Tatum to guide the economy out of a free-fall of reduction of the Hawaii tourism industry.
Hawaii Tourism is facing the biggest crisis and challenges in its history due to COVID-19. The Governor is expected to extend quarantine requirements for visitors at least until July 31, 2020. Unemployment due to the closure of the visitor industry went from almost full employment to the highest unemployment rate in the United States. This was too much for the man in charge of the travel and tourism industry.
The man with the highest paying job in the public sector of the travel and tourism industry and who took over the post of President of the Hawaii Tourism Authority 18 months ago is now throwing in the towel and calling it quits for a better retirement. Hawaii taxpayers pay him $270,000 a year.
His resignation mirrors the frustrating situation the State of Hawaii is in. It may explain why no one at the Hawaii Tourism Authority was reachable or returned phone calls, and why nobody answered the phone or responded to emails since COVID-19 threw the money cow of the State of Hawaii out the window and vanished overnight.
Chris Tatum has been in the travel and tourism industry for about 40 years with an distinguished career at Marriott Hotels and Resorts. His career in the hospitality industry began as a housekeeper at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel during his summers home from college.
After graduating from Michigan State University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in hotel and restaurant management, Tatum helped open the Maui Marriott Resort & Ocean Club at Kaanapali after which he steadily rose through the ranks of leadership positions with Marriott on the US mainland and in Asia and Australia.
Tourism is everyone’s business in a state where the largest industry is tourism. With Tatum giving HTA notice, it is a blow to this industry and the future economy of Hawaii. Tatum pledged to use the time between now and August 31 to guarantee a “smooth transition.” After this, he will leave the Aloha State behind and move him and his family to Colorado.
This throws Hawaii Tourism again into a leaderless vacuum and all of this when strong leadership is essential for the economy of the entire state. Tatum told the Honolulu Advertiser: “I let the board chair know on Monday, and I told my staff today. I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished. I’m very proud of the HTA team and our refocused plans to develop a balanced strategy for tourism. Now, I’d like to get us through the quarantine and help with the recovery piece and long road back.”
Quitting this high-paying job in Hawaii now will guarantee a sizable retirement.
“After it, the deluge,” is a saying in Europe.
Click here to read the full article.