HONOLULU (KHON2) — Created in 1998, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority has overseen the expansion and stabilization of tourism throughout Hawaiʻi for over four decades.
On Wednesday, April 19, the HTA took the initiative to make the case for their existence.
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The agency urged Lawmakers to reconsider several bills that seek to abolish the HTA and replace the agency with a government-based oversight for the visitor industry.
Executives from HTA said there would be numerous “unintended consequences” if the agency were to be extirpated from Hawaiʻi’s tourism oversight agencies.
They said the move could undermine the momentum gained as the agency has moved toward regenerative tourism.
This comes after a push for change following several missteps in the agency’s handling of recent marketing bids as well as other critiques regarding Hawaiʻi’s over tourism.
Daniel Nahoopii, HTA’s Chief Administrative Officer said that “the final bills as they are right now actually create a mess and confusion for both the staff as well as I think our stakeholders and constituents out there.”
Other executive from HTA also weighed in as they attempted to shore up support for continuing to allow the agency to conduct its tourism mission.
“In the end, out of this creative tension can come what’s best for Hawaii. Right? And, going beyond where we’ve been to,” stated John De Fries, HTA’s President and CEO.
There are still two bills that would place tourism management directly under State Department oversight and overhaul board governance.
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KHON2 News reached out to the State Senator and Representative who introduced each of those measures for a response.
The Legislature is in its final weeks for the 2023 Legislative session.