John Monahan

HVCB CEO John Monahan steps down: Hawaii Tourism Future Uncertain

A legend, a pillow for tourism, and a top leader for Hawaii Tourism is resigning. December 31 will be the last day for John Monahan to serve as CEO of the agency in charge of marketing Hawaii, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB)

ohn has been leading HVCB through good and bad times and almost lost HVCB’s marketing contract to the  Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), an organization that was mandated more to protect the land from visitors.

Former Hawaii Tourism Authority chief for HTA John De Fries changed the way tourism is now often looked at in Hawaii:

Protecting Hawaii from tourism over generating money on tourism.

Hawaii Tourism Authority is the state agency paid by taxpayers to run travel and tourism. Technically HVCB is a private contractor for HTA.

John Monahan managed to survive this change in maneuvering HVCB to comply with the de Fries mindset and at the same time related that tourism is a business, actually the largest business in the State of Hawaii.

His recent challenge was to help Maui deal with the still ongoing crisis after the fires in Lahaina.

Hawaii Tourism Authority statement on the HVCB CEO’s resignation

Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) Interim President and CEO Daniel Nāho‘opi‘i has issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement by the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) that its longtime president and CEO John Monahan will be stepping down:

“With his strong business acumen, John has contributed tremendously to our state over the past two decades by serving the community and supporting our diverse visitor industry.

He has successfully managed three main areas as HTA’s contractor, which includes strengthening The Hawaiian Islands brand in North America and beyond, advancing Global MCI group business through Meet Hawai‘i for the meetings, conventions, and incentives market, and overseeing the Island Chapters representing the island of Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.”

Nāho‘opi‘i added, “John has also been an integral partner of HTA through the state’s various periods of economic revitalization during his tenure, most recently having championed critical efforts in the U.S. market to support Maui’s recovery and the overall state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank John deeply for everything he has done for the people of Hawai‘i and wish him continued success.”

Who will run Hawaii Tourism?

Tom Mullen, HVCB’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, will serve as interim president and CEO effective Jan. 1, 2024, while maintaining his current duties until a permanent replacement for the position is in place.

Monahan will continue to serve as an advisor to HVCB and will be transitioning alongside Mullen through January.

The Future of Hawaii Tourism?

Juergen Steinmetz, CEO of the Hawaii-based World Tourism Network says: “The future of tourism in Hawaii, specifically in today’s geo-political climate remains uncertain. The push by HTA to push the tourism business to a sideline with over-sensitive sustainable tourism activities, discouraging average paying travelers from selecting Hawaii may backfire and not always be sustainable in a more and more competitive domestic and global travel and tourism industry.

“Tourism in Hawaii will remain the largest contributor to the economy, and how to balance this with environmental issues, “over-tourism”, or after many of the implementations kick in “under-tourism” remains a balancing act for a future leader for the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

“John has seen it all and is a veteran of our industry. He knew what to do. Let’s hope our new tourism leaders will bring common sense, so the most important money-making industry in our State can continue to prosper.”

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