Help us! Hawaii Tourism Authority Fights for Its Survival

by: Juergen T Steinmetz |

On Wednesday, April 12m the Hawaii Tourism Authority had its Spring Tourism Update at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

It was a friendly and feel-good event for Hawaii tourism professionals and some attending international and national marketing reps. It had a lot of flowers, leis, and an excellent Hawaii-inspired lunch with fresh local food ingredients.

Presentations used many Hawaiian language phrases. The talk story panels were popular, but the real issue about the future of tourism in Hawaii was on everyone’s mind and not much discussed.

In reality, the State funded HTA is fighting to survive the legislature trying to kill the agency.

Earlier eTurboNews said in an article that repealing the Hawaii Tourism Authority without an improved replacement is unwise and relates to playing Russian Roulet with tourism.

As the CEO and President of the Hawaii Tourism Authority had been ignoring the media, such as eTurboNews, since he started and throughout the COVID crisis, there was no press conference, no questions could be asked, and actually, Mr. de Fries did not attend most of the presentations at the events

Last year the first native Hawaiian CEO of the Tourism Board tried to put a nonprofit Hawaiian Cultural Organization in charge of US marketing.

There is no doubt Mr. de Fries loves his land and culture, and this shows in everything he does and in everything the Hawaii Tourism Authority has been doing under his leadership.

However, under his leadership, tourism seems to be less a business but a danger to native Hawaiian interests.

Some elected officials in the State understand tourism is everyone’s business in the State of Hawaii and have been alarmed about the way the agency in charge of promoting this number one industry is operating.

Many in the business community may understand the danger in not treating tourism as a business, but many had been silent but talking off the record. This is the Hawaii way.

Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews, and chairman of Hawaii headquartered World Tourism Network, attended the event. Steinmetz has been a resident of Hawaii for 35 years.

He said: “Unfortunately or fortunately, most visitors come to Waikiki to have a good time, for good food, beaches, parties. They love Hawaiian Luau and Hula dances, but the culture is not on the priority list of why they visit us. This is a reality, and this is a U.S. destination.”

Tourism is a business. HTA needs to get back to the realities of this essential money earner.”

Juergen Steinmetz, Chairman WTN

” I applaud Mr. de Fries for loving Hawaii and the way he cares about Hawaiian culture. It’s great, but we cannot forget the realities in the travel and tourism industry. Flying from Los Angeles to the Caribbean is faster and cheaper than flying to the Aloha State – this is a reality.”

Today the Hawaii Tourism Authority issued an emergency appeal to Hawaii tourism stakeholders, the public, and the media – saying:

Don’t Eliminate the Hawaii Tourism Authority

In this HTA appeal, the writer referred to an article published today in the local newspaper. The Hawaii Advertiser explained in an editorial today:

“In Hawai‘i residents’ love-hate relationship with tourism, there must be due recognition that this industry floats many economic boats. That calls for a visible lead agency that’s responsible for keeping a 360-degree watch on the unpredictable visitor industry and for being directly answerable to the public for actions undertaken. HTA should remain that semi-autonomous state agency, not be subsumed into an opaque state department.”

A person not named issued a Sunday night press release by the Hawaii Tourism Authority saying:

We hope you will take the time to read it and take action by reaching out to your community and industry contacts and elected officials over the next two weeks to make your voice heard.

Last week, our President and CEO, John De Fries, addressed more than 250 tourism industry partners and stakeholders at the Travel Weekly Hawai‘i Leadership Forum with a pointed message about what is at stake regarding House Bill 1375 and Senate Bill 1522, both aimed at dissolving HTA.

In that address, he stated:

“Twenty-five years ago, HTA was created primarily to take the politics out of the (tourism) industry. And the repeal of HTA may be an attempt to restore that.”

The following day, many members of our HTA team and partners showcased the depth of our work in the community during our Spring Tourism Update. We also presented tourism research data and updates by our Global Marketing Team on the visitor education efforts underway in each market.

Full article: Help us! Hawaii Tourism Authority Fights for Its Survival
Copyright: eTurboNews – Travel Industry News – World Travel News

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Help us! Hawaii Tourism Authority Fights for Its Survival


Source: eTurboNews

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