Campaign for a Safer Community
Mufi is pictured speaking at the close of the Campaign for a Safer Community symposium at the Royal Hawaiian. This free event is also being held on Maui, Hawai'i Island, and Kaua'i over the next few days. For more information, you can visit https://hoolanapua.org/event/safer/.
Yesterday, Ho‘ōla Nā Pua, in partnership with HLTA and Hawai'i Tourism Authority, hosted a free symposium called “Campaign for a Safer Community: Taking a Stand Against Trafficking” to better equip local tourism industry professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to recognize and report suspected instances of human trafficking. It included three sessions that covered topics including how to recognize trafficking and exploitation, how to efficiently report suspected human trafficking, and how our tourism industry can be a key partner in making our communities safer places to live. HTA’s funding is also making it possible for the symposium to be held on Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai in the next few days.
As I said in my closing remarks at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, sex trafficking is a problem that affects entire communities, not just our industry. That being said, our hoteliers are on the front lines and, it is important that we be proactive about addressing this crime. It is illegal. It is indecent. And, it is immoral.
If you suspect that someone is being victimized by human traffickers, in addition to notifying local enforcement authorities, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888.
HTA and the Hawai'i Visitors Convention Bureau (HVCB) recently launched their Kuleana Campaign, a video campaign that shares the unwritten rules and etiquettes of Hawai'i with those visiting our state. The videos were filmed on O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua'i, and Hawai'i Island and cover topics that range from ocean and hiking safety, to cultural awareness.
In addition to posting the entire set of videos online, the Kuleana Campaign has partnered with Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, all of whom are airing these videos during flights that are en route to Hawai'i.
To see the entire playlist, please click here.
Na Po'e Pa'ahana - DEADLINE EXTENDED
It is the final week to submit entries for the 30th Annual Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards. The cutoff date has been pushed to midnight of November 8. Don't miss this opportunity to recognize and honor the front-line employees who truly are the heart and soul of our Hawai'i's tourism industry.
To submit an entry, please click here.
Congratulations to the new Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani and their General Manager Julie Arigo! Julie is a former HLTA Chairperson and the current Chair of our Women In Lodging Committee.
Residence Inn Kapolei
Congratulations also to the new Residence Inn by Marriott which opened in Kapolei last week. Pictured from left are HLTA Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs Jared Higashi, General Manager Brian Hunnings, Mufi, and Director of Sales Kelly Kitashima.
Keiki in the Kitchen
Earlier this year, the Hawai'i Agriculture Foundation (HAF) launched its Young Entrepreneurs program for local students in culinary and agricultural pathways. Middle and high school students from around the state worked with their teachers to formulate business plans around a product that they had created. Yesterday, these students had the chance to sell their creations at the Made in Hawai'i Marketplace for Kids by Kids which was held as part of Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival's Keiki in the Kitchen at Victoria Ward Park.
As we have with other events, HLTA and the Hawai'i Tourism Authority have made it a goal to show support for tourism-related activities that help our youth. I represented HTA at an HAF teacher training session earlier to speak in support of the culinary business and agri-tourism and expressed our support to include neighbor island participation in these kinds of opportunities on O'ahu. In keeping with this, HTA sponsored the travel expenses for neighbor island students and teachers from Maui and Hawaii Island to participate in yesterday's event. HTA President & CEO Chris Tatum and I joined Hawai'i Agricultural Foundation Executive Director Denise Yamaguchi yesterday to tour the free, outdoor event in Kaka’ako and met with the students and educators who were part of yesterday’s festivities.
We were incredibly impressed not only by the ono food items, but also the attention to detail and creativity of the marketing and packaging of each school's product and by the variety of items that they brought to the marketplace. Our hats off to all of the students and their teachers for a job well done and we look forward to next year’s event.
The following schools were in attendance: Olomana School; Pearl City High School; Roosevelt High School; Konawaena High School; Leilehua High School; Baldwin High School; Aiea High School; Kaiser High School; Waipahu High School; Farrington High School; 'Ilima Intermediate School; and Waipahu Intermediate School.
Na Po'e Pa'ahana - DEADLINE EXTENDED
The nomination period for our 30th Annual Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards is now open! We will be extending the cutoff date until midnight of November 8. Please take a moment to submit an entry for your best hotel & lodging employees so that their hard work and aloha spirit may be recognized.
To submit an entry, please click here.
Momilani Elementary School
On Friday evening, Mufi visited Momilani Elementary School to present a check from Charity Walk to the school's PTSO, Hui o Momilani, at their Halloween Costume Ball. Momilani has been one of the most active participants through the years - they raise money and bring enthusiastic volunteers and walkers every year!
Traveler's Choice Awards
The annual Traveler's Choice Awards for Restaurants were recently announced. These awards are given out based upon one year of TripAdvisor reviews. This year, several Hawai'i restaurants received awards. In the Fine Dining category, Lahaina Grill ranked 4th, Mama's Fish House (Maui) took 8th, and Merriman's in Waimea was the 9th pick.
In the Fast Casual Eateries category, Teddy's Bigger Burgers was the 8th ranked restaurant.
But I’d like to reserve a special shoutout to TS Restaurants whose Duke's Waikiki restaurant ranked 7th in the nation for the Everyday Dining category. TS Restaurants' energetic CEO Jackie Reed was just installed as one of our newest board members at our GMM at the Hapuna Resort on Hawaii Island recently. Congrats also to TS Restaurants Area General Manager Dylan Ching and Duke's Waikiki General Manager Keli'i Gouveia, both of whom have been very supportive of many HLTA initiatives.
To see the full set of rankings, please click here.
Mufi is pictured above with TS Restaurants' CEO Jackie Reed, left, at HLTA's 192nd General Membership Meeting on Hawai'i Island. Reed was recently installed on HLTA's Board of Directors. Also pictured is Southwest Airlines' Community Affairs & Grassroots Senior Specialist Kelly Knox.
192nd General Membership Meeting
We are back in the HLTA offices having just wrapped up an amazing weekend at the West Hapuna Beach Resort where we held our 192nd General Membership Meeting. It was a pleasure to catch up with so many familiar faces and to get to know some of our newest HLTA members.
We kicked off the weekend on Thursday evening with an event hosted by our Women In Lodging & Tourism Committee. The discussion panel included guest speakers Malani DeAguiar of Kamehameha Schools and Ku'ulei Keakealani-Case from Ka Pilina Poina 'Ole and was deftly moderated by Kawehi Inaba of Kupa'a Business Planners.
The panel, which was entitled Moku O Keawe: A Sense of Place, opened with an oli and covered a wide variety of topics that focused on how a person can begin to belong to a physical place like Hawai'i by embracing and adopting the local cultural practices and protocols. It was an especially fitting topic as our industry works to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture in a sensitive way.
On Friday morning, our Allied Members took the stage at our annual Sponsor Showcase where they exhibited their best products and services.
Friday Lunch & Learn
After lunch and the HLTA Board of Directors Meeting, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green joined us as our first Lunch & Learn Speaker for this year's GMM. The Lieutenant Governor focused his remarks on homelessness, which has been his main focus on behalf of Governor David Ige's administration. He commended HLTA for its active financial support for non-profit groups throughout the state.
Following Lieutenant Governor Green, we hosted a government panel that included State Senator Kai Kahele, State Representative James Tokioka, and Hawai'i County Councilmember Tim Richards III. Mauna Kea Resort General Manager and Vice President of Operations Craig Anderson served as moderator and led a quality discussion on the tourism industry, the government arena, and how these two entities affect each other.
Friday night's reception featured a "Trashion Show" led by Hawai'i County Councilmember Rebecca Villegas, second from right.
After the "Trashion Show," HLTA members were treated to a live performance by 14-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award Winner Mark Yamanaka.
General Membership Meeting
On Saturday morning, we held our General Membership Meeting where we said farewell to HLTA Chairman Glenn Vergara who, for the past year, has been exemplary in this leadership role. He tirelessly worked to grow our association and was passionate about Charity walk. Glenn passed the gavel to our new Board Chair Michael Jokovich. This will be his second time serving in this capacity and, if I remember anything from his last tenure, you can be certain that all HLTA events under his leadership will be meaningful and fun!
I also delivered my annual State of the Industry Address. My remarks this year highlighted our key partnerships, the issues that our industry will face in 2020 like overtourism, illegal vacation rentals, possible increases to the TAT and Real Property Tax rates, the establishment of an Airports Corporation, and homelessness. A key portion of my speech also focused on where HLTA must go from here to meet these challenges successfully.
One of our main areas of focus going forward will be to grow the HLTA membership base. At GMM, I issued a personal request to our membership that each member personally strive to bring two new members into the HLTA fold before our trade show in April. I shared a video showing some of the perks that come with joining our association. You can see that at the link below.
Each of You Reach Two - GMM 2019
I also announced our newest public engagement initiative, the HLTA Education Fund, which will serve one main goal: to EDUCATE our elected officials, stakeholders, and the general public on the positive effect that our industry has on our community as a whole.
Going forward, I emphasized that the leaders of our industry must take a more active role in the political process. As we are approaching a major election year, there is a significant opportunity to elect candidates from our industry who will consistently support our causes. For this reason, we must continue to contribute to our HOTELPAC so that the candidates of our choosing will have the backing needed to win key races.
Senator Kurt Fevella was kind enough to join us to tell his story and share how HLTA helped him to emerge victorious in the last election. Mahalo to Senator Fevella for making the trip to Hawai'i Island and for being such a strong ally for the tourism industry of Hawai'i.
If you would like a copy of my GMM remarks, please e-mail our Director of Communications Jared Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday Lunch & Learn
Our final Lunch & Learn session of the weekend was a good one.
John De Fries, Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, led things off with a powerful speech that touched on topics that ranged from the Kumulipo, to the Hokule'a, to the use of 'olelo Hawai'i to name celestial objects that have been discovered through telescopes in Hawai'i. I heard multiple positive comments about the subject matter from those in attendance.
Hawai'i Tourism Authority President & CEO Chris Tatum was our last speaker for the weekend and his presentation on tourism management, delivered in a markedly talk story style, was the perfect way to come full circle on many of the topics that were touched on throughout the weekend.
My sincerest mahalo to all of those who shared their mana'o at this year's GMM and to all of you who took the opportunity to share your thoughts on what is important for our industry. It is always refreshing to hear different viewpoints on the subjects that we spend so much of our time and energies.
Tailgate By the Sea
On Saturday evening, HLTA members descended upon the Makai Pool and Naupaka Grille to enjoy our first ever Tailgate by the Sea. In addition to an amazing sunset and delicious food, multiple TVs were set up for our members to cheer on the UH Warrior football team as they took on Air Force.
While we were at GMM, readers of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and USA Today around the state found the HLTA story on a special spadea that we've reproduced above. If you'd like to see a high resolution copy of all four pages, please click here.
In closing, my warmest mahalo to everybody who attended and made our 192nd General Membership Meeting a success. Thank you in particular to Craig Anderson and the entire staff at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. Mahalo for hosting us and for making our stay a pleasant and memorable one.
Final Call to Register for GMM
While the normal registration period for HLTA's 192nd General Membership Meeting has closed, you can still register to join us at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort by clicking the button below. We have a full weekend of educational and networking opportunities that you do not want to miss out on. I am most looking forward to seeing you all next week.
Campaign for a Safer Community
Hoʻōla Nā Pua, a local nonprofit organization that combats sex trafficking, is partnering with the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and HLTA to host free, four-hour seminars on O'ahu, Maui, Hawai'i Island, and Kaua'i during the first week of November. The workshops will include industry-specific topics such as "Defining Trafficking & Exploitation," "Tourism Industry as Key Partners in Protecting Our Community," and "Responding, Reporting and Action Steps."
The seminars are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
30th Annual Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards
Each year, the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association hosts the Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards to honor individuals who have contributed to the visitor industry through their professionalism, their engagement with the community, and the way in which they have consistently embodied the Aloha Spirit. These are the employees who continue to make Hawaii a premier destination. Our industry relies on their dedication and commitment to providing stellar service to all those that visit our islands. This year's Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards has been scheduled for January 9 at the HiIton Hawaiian Village.
The nomination period is now open and will run through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 1. In eight of the ten award categories, finalists will be recognized in small, medium, and large-size lodging properties. These categories include:
To nominate one of your outstanding employees for this year's Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards, please click here.
Samaritan Counseling Center - Hawai'i
Last night, I attended a mahalo reception that the Samaritan Counseling Center of Hawaii hosted for their supporters. The organization, which provides counseling at little to no cost to people in need, is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. In the time since their establishment, the Samaritan Counseling Center has helped more than 8,000 people improve their well-being and have facilitated nearly 74,000 hours of counseling and compassionate care.
Congratulations and mahalo to the Samaritan Counseling Center of Hawaii, their staff, and all of their supporters on 30 outstanding years of service.
LA Clippers in the Community
The Los Angeles Clippers were in Honolulu where they have held their preseason training camp for the past three years. There has been extensive coverage of the team's practice and play over the past week against the Houston Rockets and the Shanghai Sharks but I want to share with you some of the things that the Clippers have been doing off the court with Hawaii Tourism’s assistance.
A while back, the Clippers asked for our help in identifying a local public school that could benefit from a charitable donation from the organization. After hearing the Clippers' criteria, I immediately thought of Central Middle School and suggested them as an ideal fit. Last week Friday, I joined Central Middle School Principal Anne Marie Murphy and LA Clippers President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker as they unveiled a new technology and innovation hub at the Honolulu middle school. The team donated iPads, virtual reality headsets, and 3D printers that will surely help to prepare Central Middle School's students for the hi-tech job market of today.
If this wasn't enough, the Clippers also decided at the very last minute to rehabilitate the Central Middle School basketball courts. When the team arrived at the school to begin outfitting the tech hub, Zucker noticed the nearby court in disrepair. She and her team made sure that the work to patch pieces of the concrete and install new rims, backboards, and nets were done within 48 hours!
Check out this video that was posted on the Clippers' Facebook page.
On Saturday, The Clippers hosted a full day of skills clinics at Klum Gym. Kids ranging from ages 6-14 from around the state all got a chance to hone their skills under the watchful eyes of the Clippers' coaching staff. A special coaches clinic was also conducted. My deepest thanks to the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and their President Chris Tatum for providing us with the funding necessary to invite a large contingent of neighbor island players to O'ahu to reap the benefits of the LA Clippers' skills clinics. HLTA was proud to make arrangements for players from Moloka'i, Lana'i, Maui, Kaua'i, and Hawai'i Island to travel here to take part in this unique opportunity and made sure that all parts of O’ahu were represented at the clinic for the first time.
Charity Walk Check Presentations
I've been grateful to once again visit with some of our outstanding Charity Walk organizations. The two mentioned in my message this week have been strong participants over the past several years and their causes have truly reaped the benefits.
Adult Friends for Youth's mission is to halt violence in an effort to strengthen families and make communities safer. Their model focuses on several core programs which include: Neighborhood Outreach; School-Centered Counseling; Clinical C-Base Alternative Education Program and Student Anti-Bullying and Violence Conventions; and the PEARL (Promoting Peace, Empathy, Acceptance, Respect, and Love). Adult Friends for Youth serves more than 300 youth per week, many of whom have been engaged in destructive behaviors like substance abuse, fighting, and other criminal activities.
Corvette Center Ministries is based in Wai'anae and works closely with the homeless population in that area. This year, they received significant funds that will support their Zion 'Ipuka program which is a housing initiative that provides qualified applicants with a private living space, bedding, and some furniture. The residents, many of whom are elderly, share common areas including bathroom and kitchen facilities on the 2-acre property. Zion 'Ipuka members pay whatever they can afford and also maintain the property.
Mahalo to Adult Friends for Youth and Corvette Center Ministries for all that they do.
West Maui Committee Meeting
Last Tuesday, I was invited to the West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee Meeting by Committee Chair Kai Nishiki and Maui County Council Chair Kelly King to speak on the topic of economic opportunity through innovation and collaboration via the visitor industry both on Maui and throughout the rest of the state. I deem these opportunities so important that, when having discussions centered around tourism management, visitor industry and local stakeholders MUST be at the table.
My presentation focused on eight points that are key to managing tourism that include: contributions through charitable initiatives; community engagement; affordable housing and the adoption and enforcement of local transient vacation rental laws; transportation; environment and natural resources; native Hawaiian culture; homelessness; and tourism strategic plans.
In closing, I shared some of my experiences and the takeaways that I gleaned while enacting the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Initiative in the mid-1990's. These range from a willingness to consider all points of view to how to effectively use entrance fees to improve and maintain a specific natural resource.
I also held a Q&A session, and a positive and meaningful discourse ensued that I enjoyed immensely.
HLTA Kaua'i Malama Awards
Each year, HLTA’s Kaua‘i Chapter hosts their Mālama Awards which recognizes Kaua‘i HLTA members and the Garden Isle's exceptional visitor industry employees who make Kaua‘i a top-tier destination. Jared Higashi represented me at their 22nd annual event at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i. My warmest congratulations to all of the individuals who were recognized .
I would like to give special recognition to HLTA Kaua‘i Chapter Executive Director Morgan Lopez and the Mālama Awards Planning Committee which includes Denise Wardlow, Jim Braman, Sandi Kato Klutke, and Shaun Borges. Finally, a special shout out to former Chapter President Paul Toner, and Kaua‘i Chapter President Dan King who hosted the event at his hotel.
Generational Membership Meeting
While the normal registration period has closed, you can still register to join us for our 192nd General Membership Meeting! We are less than two weeks away and I hope that you will be able to join us.
There has been a heavy focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness across the industry as of late. Staying true to this theme, on Friday evening at GMM, Hawai'i County Councilmember Rebecca Villegas will be hosting a fashion show that will showcase DIY fashion ideas that incorporate recycled materials into their creation. We encourage HLTA members who will be attending to keep in mind the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra and to show up wearing their finest "trashion" attire.
For some inspiration, please check out the photos below.
The Kukui Center
Earlier this week, I was invited to visit the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Kukui Center in downtown Honolulu to tour their facilities and meet with some of the programs that are housed in the complex on North Kukui and ‘A‘ala streets. The Kukui Center is the brainchild of the Kukui Children’s Foundation and its founding purpose was to create a center for abused children. The foundation purchased the historic building on the edge of Chinatown and spent more than two years raising funds and renovating to better serve the children and families who would one day utilize the facility. I was in on the ground floor helping to support the opening of the Center when I was Mayor.
It was such a pleasant surprise to learn that each of the eight organizations that call the Kukui Center home are Visitor Industry Charity Walk participants. These eight include: Family Promise of Hawai'i; Hale Kipa; Hawai'i Immigrant Justice Center; Hawai'i Literacy; Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies; Mediation Center of the Pacific; Leadership in Disabilities and Achievement of Hawai'i; and Kids Hurt Too Hawai'i.
Kids Hurt Too Hawai'i has an especially interesting program called HI Rising. Started in 2018, this program gives paid, work training experience to young adults who are either in the foster care system, about to age out of the foster care system, or a qualified Kids Hurt Too Hawai'i alumni. The participants staff and manage a retail location located in the Kukui Center. Over the course of the program, they are trained in a number of fields including: Computer Literacy; Introduction to Graphic Design; Fundamentals of Marketing; Retail and Personal Finances; Small Business Planning; Merchandising; Customer Service; and Mentoring and Life Skills Development.
ICYMI - Charity Walk Mahalo Ad
HLTA ran a special mahalo ad in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. To see the full resolution version, please click here.
IHS Waikiki SMART Program Launch
HLTA, along with the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and the Institute for Human Services, held a press conference on Monday to announce that HLTA and HTA would be donating $100,000 to help IHS launch the first phase of their Waikiki System Mediated Access to Rehabilitation and Treatment (SMART) Program. This program will focus on addressing individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness in the Waikiki area. The donation, which will fund the program for the next year, was made possible by State matching funds which were administered by HLTA and HTA. Over the past 4 years, HLTA, its members and the visitor industry has contributed more than $1.4 million to IHS.
You can read more coverage on this new program at the links below:
"State, tourism agencies fund effort to reduce chronic Waikiki homelessness," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Sept. 24, 2019
"HLTA and HTA donate $100,000 to help address homelessness in Waikiki," Pacific Business News, Sept. 24, 2019
General Membership Meeting
I am pleased to announce that Hilo native and 14-time Nā Hoku Hanohano award winner Mark Yamanaka will be playing a live set at HLTA’s 192nd General Membership Meeting during our reception on Friday evening. Mark has released four albums to date and has garnered numerous awards including Song of the Year, Single of the Year, Album of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year.
In the video below, check out Mark's rendition of Johnny Lum Ho’s Ka Leo O Ka Moa performed on stage at the historic Hawai'i Theater.
8th Annual Ka 'Ikena Reception
Mahalo to all who attended HLTA's 8th Annual Ka 'Ikena Reception! A special thank you to the KCC Culinary and Hospitality students who made this year's event a successful one.
Help, Understanding, & Group Support
Mufi was invited to HUGS' monthly, family get together at the organization’s facility in Kaimuki. HUGS, which stands for Help, Understanding, & Group Support, was founded in 1982 to assist and serve families who have a child in treatment for a serious disease. Their services support the child in treatment as well as the family members who may be struggling financially, spiritually, or emotionally.
General Membership Meeting
In the coming weeks, I’d like to share with you some of the events that we have planned for our 192nd General Membership Meeting which is to be held at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort from October 17th through 19th. The one event that I’m sure will be a hit this year is the tailgate party that HLTA will be hosting on Saturday evening to watch UH play the United States Air Force Academy. Join us for good fun, fellowship, and to root for Coach Rolovich and the Warriors as they take on the Fighting Falcons.
As a friendly reminder, please note that the cutoff date for regular GMM registration rates is September 30th (midnight), so please register as soon as possible. Once this deadline has passed, the cost of registration will rise from $375 to $425. It is also important that you register soon so that you may take advantage of our GMM room rate which starts at $295 per night. If you have any questions about registration, the room rate, or GMM in general, please do not hesitate to contact HLTA Director of Membership and Special Projects Ashley Yonamine at (808) 923-0407 or via email at email@example.com.
Ka 'Ikena Reception
The 2019 Ka ‘Ikena Reception is next week Tuesday, September 24 and there are still seats available. Do not miss out on a night of delicious French cuisine prepared by the students of the Kapi‘olani Community College Culinary Arts Program. Not only will you get to taste food prepared by the future stars of Hawai‘i’s culinary scene, but also support the program that has groomed and prepared them for long and successful careers in the restaurant business. Please take a look at the menu below to see what’s in store and then click here to reserve your seat.
Monster X Tour 2020
This past April, monster trucks made their long-awaited return to the islands and fans of all ages flocked to Aloha Stadium to enjoy the show. It had been 23 years since the last time a monster truck rally was held on island and the event was a smash hit. It was another example of a sport that has a strong local fanbase and underscored the need to build a new stadium in order to accommodate world-class events like the Monster X Tour.
This week, I participated in a press conference at First Hawaiian Bank, the major sponsor, where it was announced that the Monster X Tour will be returning to O'ahu to host the Monster X Tour World Finals at Aloha Stadium on April 25th and May 2nd of 2020. The 2020 show is slated to include bull-riding, a freestyle motocross event, and a monster truck ride. Additionally, gear head fans will have multiple opportunities to meet the drivers and get on an actual monster truck. Tickets are already on sale on Ticketmaster or at the Aloha Stadium Box Office with prices starting at $28.
Mufi is pictured above at the September 17 Monster X press conference.
Charity Walk Presentation
As you may have seen, over the past several weeks I have been visiting with various groups that were strong participants in this year’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk. There are so many amazing charities, nonprofits, schools, and other service organizations that participate in the Visitor Industry Charity Walk and I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet the people who not only make Charity Walk a success, but also provide important services in different spheres of our community.
Mufi stopped by the Waikiki Community Center to drop off a $7,000 check to the organization which provides multi-generational services to better the lives of Waikiki residents of all ages.
A check for $10,000 was presented to the Hawai'i Meals on Wheels Board of Directors on Tuesday evening.
Kalihi YMCA Visit
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of teenaged students who are active at the YMCA’s Kalihi Branch. As somebody who grew up just around the corner from this particular YMCA it was an invitation that I was all too happy to accept. The group and I talked story for about an hour covering everything from growing up in Kalihi to the effects that rail may have on their community. They were a group of bright and engaging young adults from the neighborhood of my youth and I had a great time meeting with them. Mahalo to the YMCA for having me and a special thank you to Justin Vele for contacting me and inviting me in to speak with the group.
Marriott Business Council Meeting
Mahalo to Marriott International for inviting me to give another legislative update at their Business Council Meeting. Being that one of the major pillars of what we do at HLTA is advocacy on behalf of our association members and the visitor industry as a whole, it is always great to talk story directly to industry members on the legislative matters that we are prioritizing at the State and County levels. My remarks covered a number of issues ranging from transient vacation rentals to "overtourism" to the TAT to Property Taxes and to the Airport .
If you or your organization would be interested in having me give a legislative briefing, please do not hesitate to reach out to the HLTA office. It is critically important that we are all aware of the challenges currently facing the visitor industry so that we may be prepared to effectively address them.
Ka 'Ikena Is Just Around the Corner
The 8th Annual Ka ‘Ikena Reception is fast approaching! The menu has been finalized and I am sure that you will love it. The KCC students have decided to focus on French cuisine, taking special care to choose dishes that represent the entirety of French cooking and the French homeland.
Let’s have a strong showing from hoteliers and restaurateurs to show these students that their futures are bright within our industry. Please reserve your seat for this event as soon as possible. You may reserve your ticket at the link below.
Charity Walk Allocation Events
In an effort to recognize some of the organizations that stood out at this year's Visitor Industry Charity Walk, I have been presenting these groups with an oversize check to match my oversize gratitude for all of their hard work and fundraising this year. It has been encouraging to interact with them and to learn just how important these funds can be to small groups of people who are trying to make big differences. It truly drives home the impact that Charity Walk has on a year to year basis.
This past Monday, I delivered a check to Hawai'i Arts Alliance in a special ceremony at Kalihi Kai Elementary School. The local arts advocacy group immediately gifted a portion of their Charity Walk allocation sum to Kalihi Kai in support of the school's Turnaround Arts Program which uses arts integration strategies in specific schools. This was an especially touching event for me as I attended Kalihi Kai Elementary School in kindergarten and first grade.
I also recently visited with the Hawai'i Chapter of The Compassionate Friends. This nonprofit provides friendship, solace, and hope to families who are grieving after the loss of a child. The organization was founded more than 40 years ago in England and has grown to include more than 600 chapters around the world.
Finally, I met with members of Aloha Medical Mission, a group that, over the past several years, has become a strong participant in Charity Walk. This volunteer-driven organization is based in Hawai'i and provides free health care to under-served populations around the state and beyond. Their services include everything from free dental clinics to surgical teams that are sent to developing countries around the Pacific.
Japan Hawai'i Travel Association
Last Thursday, I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion that was hosted by the Japan Hawaii Travel Association as part of their annual seminar. I joined Senate Tourism Chair Glenn Wakai, House Tourism Chair Richard Onishi, and HTA President and CEO Chris Tatum for a lengthy conversation that was moderated by Kim Gennaula Hagi. We covered a variety of topics and issues that Hawai‘i’s visitor industry are currently facing including visitor safety, responsible tourism, managing “over tourism”, and the current state and direction of the Japanese market. This was followed by a short Q&A session during which a number of intriguing questions and ideas were raised. Mahalo JHTA for inviting me to participate in this year’s seminar.
Pictured from left to right are HTA President and CEO Chris Tatum, Senator Glenn Wakai, Mufi, Kim Gennaula Hagi, JHTA President and CEO Hiroyuki Kitagawa, and Representative Richard Onishi.
Hawai'i Island Allocations
On Tuesday night, I made the trip to Hawai‘i Island to attend the final Charity Walk check allocation event for 2019. This year, HLTA’s Hawai‘i Island Chapter raised a record $385,000. These monies were given to 58 different local nonprofits who contributed in a variety of ways to the success of this year’s event. Congratulations and mahalo to all who helped make this possible.
As we close the books on Charity Walk 2019, I want to express my deepest thanks to Hawai‘i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson, Hawai‘i Island Charity Walk Chair Steve Yannarell, and Charity Walk Admin Bambi Lau for all of their hard work this year. I am already excited for next year’s Charity Walk and can’t wait to see what benchmarks we surpass in 2020 and beyond.
Pictured from left to right are Hawai'i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson, Mufi, Charity Walk Admin Bambi Lau, and Hawai'i Island Charity Walk Chair Steve Yannarell.
2019 R.W. "Bob" Holden Scholars
Noah Matagi Magalei and his family came by the HLTA offices to pick up his scholarship check and talk about his plans for the future. Pictured in the front row from left to right: Malosi, Tu'ufuli, and Sasha. Back row, left to right, Mufi, Noah, and Noah's mother Lila.
I was pleased to meet with two more HLTA scholarship awardees. 2019 R.W. “Bob” Holden Scholarship winners Noah Matagi Magalei and Gellyn Flores both visited me at the HLTA offices to pick up their scholarship checks and talk story about their future plans in the visitor industry.
Gellyn is a student at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu where she is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Hospitality & Tourism and Marketing. She is a UH – West Oahu Chancellor’s Scholarship recipient and is currently completing an internship at the Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu. She is an outstanding student who has taken advantage of every opportunity afforded to her including HLTA’s Generational Mentorship Program during which she was advised by The Kahala Hotel & Resort General Manager Gerald Glennon.
Noah is a junior at Brigham Young University – Hawaii where he is majoring in Hospitality & Tourism. An Eagle Scout and former athlete, Noah is also a member of the Ho‘okipa Society which is a Hospitality & Tourism Management organization. He is also a former participant in our Generational Mentoring Program where he was mentored by Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club’s General Manager Christina Gabriel. Noah successfully completed the program in the spring of this year.
Congratulations Gellyn and Noah! I am confident that you will both go on to enjoy successful careers in this industry and I look forward to seeing you accomplish big things.
2019 R.W. "Bob" Holden Scholar Gellyn Flores met with me today to pick up her scholarship check. She then immediately turned and headed back to the Four Seasons Resort O'ahu for her shift. It was such a pleasure to be able to meet with her and talk about her goals.
Ka 'Ikena 2019
Please join me at Ka ‘Ikena 2019 which is to be held on Tuesday, September 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It will be an exciting evening where you will get to taste dishes prepared by the best and brightest of Kapi‘olani Community College’s Culinary Arts Program while also helping to raise funds that will benefit the culinary program. You will be amazed by the talents of these budding young chefs who represent the future of Hawai‘i’s restaurant industry. Please join us for this wonderful event where HLTA will also be honoring the latest recipient of the HLTA Scholarship in the Culinary Arts.
Pacific Century Fellows - Class of 2019
The Pacific Century Fellows (PCF) Program has announced its 17th cohort which includes 35 outstanding individuals who represent the best and brightest that Hawai‘i has to offer. This year’s class features a diverse group of men and women who come from a variety of backgrounds including financial institutions, healthcare, government, tourism, and the nonprofit sector, among others. Over the next nine months, Fellows will meet each month for an “education day” that will provide them with an in-depth look at a myriad of issues that affect Hawai‘i today. With these newfound perspectives, the Fellows will be encouraged to be more active citizens while applying what they have learned throughout the course of the program.
HLTA members and the visitor industry as a whole are well-represented in this year’s class. New Fellows from our membership include:
I founded PCF in 1996 based on the transformative experience that I had while participating in the White House Fellows program during the Reagan administration. Since PCF’s inception, nearly 475 people have successfully completed the PCF program and have gone on to successful and impactful careers in a multitude of fields. Two of the Fellows who were selected by a blue-ribbon panel of community leaders, in particular, come with strong visitor industry experience and backgrounds. Keli‘i Gouveia has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the restaurant industry that saw him progress from security to General Manager of Duke’s Waikiki, the position which he currently holds. Keli‘i also serves as chairman of the Hawai’i Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors and spends countless hours mentoring high school culinary students at Duke’s. HLTA Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs Jared Higashi has been a fixture in the HLTA offices for the past five years and has done exceptional work in our government relations and charity walk endeavors.
The tourism industry has also figured prominently in previous PCF classes. Last year’s Fellows included Dylan Ching who is the Area General Manager for TS Restaurants with oversight responsibilities for Waikiki and Kaua‘i. Also present in the Class of 2018 was Daniel Chun who is the Director of Sales, Community & Public Relations for Hawai’i at Alaska Airlines and who also serves on the HLTA Board of Directors. Other Fellows included Marriott International Senior Account Manager Allison Tomisato Alves and Founder of Akamai Training & Consulting, Corey Campbell, both of whom have been active in HLTA HYPE committee activities.
My congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2019 as they embark on this next journey in their personal and professional development.
Ka 'Ikena 2019
Our 8th Annual Ka ‘Ikena Reception is being held earlier than usual this year and the date is fast approaching. Please join me and my team on Tuesday, September 24th at the Ka ‘Ikena Dining Room at Kapi‘olani Community College where you will not only get to experience delicious dishes prepared by KCC culinary students but also help to support the very program that is training them for the future.
If you’ve attended this event in the past, you already know what an amazing experience it is. Exquisite cuisine, great company, and a wonderful time is to be had by all. This is an exclusive event and is limited to the first 100 people to reserve their tickets. Do not wait- register today by clicking the link below.
Aloha Festivals Check Presentation
This past Saturday, I attended Aloha Festivals’ Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony at The Royal Hawai’ian Hotel where I presented a check to event co-chair Sam Shenkus, of the Royal Hawai’ian Center, from our Visitor Industry Charity Walk. The ceremony officially kicked off Aloha Week, the single largest celebration of Hawai’ian culture in the nation. Interestingly enough, Aloha Week was founded in 1946 and HLTA, which was then known as Hawaii Hotel Association, was established in 1947. Both of these organizations have evolved alongside each other for the past 70 odd years. In addition to Aloha Week, Aloha Festivals oversees longstanding traditions like the annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a and the annual Floral Parade, both of which will be held later this month.
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