Starting this week, HLTA will introduce “Mufi’s Message” to keep our members updated on all things HLTA: our progress on legislative priorities, upcoming events and initiatives, and more. This week I’d like to inform you all about the status of HLTA’s legislative priorities this session.
Regarding homelessness, HLTA endorses thoughtful, comprehensive approaches to help the homeless receive permanent housing and necessary services, or help them return to their out-of-state homes if desired. We believe that a portion of the Transient Accommodations Tax revenue should be appropriated to relieve homelessness in areas that impact tourism, across the state. While the two measures we initially supported were stalled in the originating houses, we are currently targeting Bill SB1290 with House Tourism Chair Richard Onishi's support to appropriate $2 million to assist with this issue on a statewide basis. As you all know within the last 2 years, HLTA has made significant contributions on Oahu, Maui and Kauai to help combat homelessness outside of what we do through Charity Walk and this year we will do likewise for Hawai'i Island.
Our second priority issue this session is establishing a State airport corporation to give a laser-like focus to the ever-evolving demands of our state’s airports. With great leadership and support from the Department of Transportation’s Director Ford Fuchigami, Bill SB658 is currently moving smoothly and we expect it will pass this year. No taxes or public financing is required of this authority as all the funding will come from airline fees.
Our highest priority issue this session is establishing a level playing field with the Transient Vacation Rental market by collecting Transient Accommodation Taxes and gaining more transparency from online accommodation operators. Last year we supported a measure approved by the Legislature that would authorize online accommodation websites to collect taxes from their users and remit payments to the state; however, it was eventually vetoed by the Governor. This year we know that the Governor will not sign the same bill as last year, and are working to insert amendments or stronger language that will address more transparency and accountability for both the online platforms and individual operators; provisions to address the registration of transient vacation rentals; enforcement of reasonable fines that will hold the operators and hosting platforms to operate within the law and ensuring that state law or policy will not preempt the counties from implementing and enforcing their rules and regulations on this matter. I am optimistic despite the various twists and turns that this measure has encountered, we will find common ground, especially if the Governor indicates to the Legislature what is going to take for him to sign a bill into law. Millions of dollars that the state doesn't have should be collected sooner rather than later.
Two other tourism related issues of note that we support include Bill SB1084 backed by Senate Tourism Chair Glenn Wakai relating to reforming the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and Bill SB994 strongly supported by Senate President Ron Kouchi and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui relating to the establishment of a stadium authority. We’ll continue to support the HTA reform bill, especially since the procurement exemption was recently reinstated, and more importantly, with language in the measure to have the Governor fill appointments to the board in a timely manner and with individuals who have strong visitor industry experience. We believe this measure will strengthen HTA and help it foster a better relationship with the State. On the stadium authority, I have touted many times that a new sports / entertainment facility with transient oriented development opportunities and benefits are immeasurable, and the timing has never been better for this bill with the land being returned to the state. I envision a public / private partnership that would lighten the financial burden on the state. SB994 appears to be in good shape at the legislature with great support from the public and private sector.
Finally in addition to the issues we are actively addressing in the State Legislature, we are also staying alert on City and County measures as well. One such measure includes a proposed increase of $0.50 on hotel and resort Real Property Tax Assessments by the City administration which HLTA strongly opposes. At our recent Government Affairs meeting held on Thursday, March 16, we invited Councilmembers Ernie Martin (Former Council Chair and Budget Chair) and Ann Kobayashi (Former Budget Chair and now head of the Parks, Community & Customer Services Committee, who shared their thoughts and concerns with this rate increase because it will negatively impact our visitor industry operations and in turn, our hard-working employees. We share a belief with the Councilmembers that there is more money to be trimmed from the budget and urge the City to look into alternatives such as collecting funds from transient vacation units.
HLTA officially kicked off the 39th annual Oahu Charity Walk today at Pomaika'i Ballrooms at Dole Cannery. Mahalo to Enterprise, Alamo, and National Rent-A-Car for graciously donating $10,000 to the Charity Walk across all counties - what a way to get the fundraising efforts started! Congratulations are also in order for Aqua-Aston Hospitality for winning the 2016 Charity Walk t-shirt design contest! The design reflected HLTA's motto, "We're all in this together," written in numerous languages with various slipper symbols. Oahu's Charity Walk will take place on Saturday, May 20th at Ala Moana Park McCoy Pavilion. Register or donate to the walk here:
https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/OahuCW or learn more about the Charity Walk at www.charitywalkhawaii.org
Mahalo for attending another awesome Hospitality Industry Pau Hana! Congratulations to our Kahiau Award recipient, Everlyn Kidani of Aqua Oasis Hotel! Read more about Everlyn and our previous Kahiau Awardees here: http://www.hawaiilodging.org/hip-kahiau-award-recipients
HLTA held its 2nd Annual Tourism Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. The event drew a crowd of over 300 people to the 4th floor foyer for a Tourism Expo, which featured exhibits by HLTA, hotels and other tourism businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. This year the public was treated to goodies such as Two Ladies Kitchen Mochi from Hilo, Koloa Rum Muffins, Hilton DoubleTree Cookies, and more. They were also able to enjoy activities including lei making, prize drawings, and a 3D virtual reality tour of Kauai Coffee Company.
The day kicked off with an educational session presented by HLTA President and CEO Mufi Hannemann and his staff. Also offering remarks and in attendance were Senate President Ron Kouchi, Tourism Chairs Senator Glenn Wakai and Representative Richard Onishi, former Speaker Calvin Say, Representative James Tokioka, and State Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami. The session outlined HLTA's mission of education, advocacy and philanthropy, highlighted the importance of the hospitality industry to Hawaii, summarized HLTA’s legislative priorities, and expanded on the synergistic relationship that tourism has with other sectors of our economy, including agriculture and STEM. This year, HLTA's priority issues include appropriating $2M to help ease homelessness in tourism impacted areas across the state, collecting room and general excise taxes from online transient vacation rentals to level the playing field, as well as developing an independent corporation to oversee the state's airport division.
After the educational session, HLTA members and legislators were given the opportunity to meet and mingle over a delicious buffet lunch by Tiki's Bar & Grill with HLTA board members, general managers and business leaders. Several dozen lawmakers attended this portion, including House Speaker Joe Souki, Vice-Speaker John Mizuno, Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, Transportation Chair Henry Aquino, Judiciary Chair Scott Nishimoto, Economic Development and Business Chair Mark Nakashima and Minority Leader Andria Tupola and from the Senate, Vice-President Michelle Kidani, Consumer Protection Chair Roz Baker, Transportation and Energy Chair Lorraine Inouye, Higher Education Chair Kai Kahele, Judiciary and Labor Chair Gil Agaron, Senate Majority Leader Kalani English and Majority Caucus Leader Brickwood Galuteria. Finally, much appreciation to Representatives Tom Brower and Daniel Holt and their staff for rendering tremendous support in making the day a huge success. We are already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Tourism Day at the Capitol in 2018!
On this Aloha Friday, HLTA members walked the Hawaii State Capitol to greet all 78 of our legislators with lei and invite them to our 2nd annual Tourism Day at the Capitol on February 21! We welcome all of our members to attend Tourism Day, co-hosted by HLTA, Senator Glenn Wakai, and Representative Richard Onishi. The day will start off with an educational seminar to help educate our legislators about our industry's top legislative priorities. Throughout Tourism Day, the fourth-floor foyer of the State Capitol will be turned into a tourism expo, featuring exhibits by HLTA, hotels and other tourism businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. There will also be an opportunity for hospitality executives to have a “meet and greet” with our government leaders over lunch. We encourage you all to join us as a representative of our State's number-one industry. Mahalo to The Orchid Lei Company for providing the beautiful lei for today's event.
On Saturday, January 28, over 40 volunteers of HLTA's Oahu Chapter, Engineers Advisory Council, Women in Lodging & Tourism, and HYPE committees gathered for a beautification project at Kapiolani Park. Over the course of two hours, the group collectively painted over 40 park benches/tables, 2 signs, and 2 charcoal pits, and picked up trash in the surrounding area. After the beautification project, volunteers enjoyed bento lunches provided by the Honolulu Zoo's Taste of the Wild Catering and Oahu Chapter at a picnic in the Waikiki Aquarium's front gated area. It was a fantastic morning of community service, networking, and fun! Mahalo to the volunteers for participating, the Oahu Chapter for coordinating, Taste of the Wild Catering for the bentos, and Waikiki Aquarium for providing the picnic area and free admission to the aquarium.
Photos by Russ Sumida
On Tuesday, January 17, HLTA's Government Affairs Committee welcomed State Senator Glenn Wakai, Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology, to speak with the committee about his legislative priorities this session in regards to the hospitality industry. The Senator shared similar priorities to the HLTA, including leveling the playing field between hotels and transient vacation units, creating an airport authority, and dedicating a portion of the TAT towards combating homelessness in resort areas. He spoke candidly, creating an intimate environment prime for open discussion.
After the session with Senator Wakai, HLTA President & CEO Mufi Hannemann and Government Affairs Committee Chair Chris Tatum opened HLTA's 2017 legislative priorities up for discussion, shared additional interests formulated by hospitality stakeholders, and invited the committee to offer input.
HLTA is looking forward to an exciting and productive legislative session, and we are inviting our members to help us kick it off by participating in Tourism Day at the Capitol on February 21, 2017. On February 3, HLTA is planning to hold its Lei Day at the Capitol visiting all the offices with a reminder flyer of our Tourism Day.
HLTA honored the best-of-the-best of its employees at the 27th Annual Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana (the hard-working people) Awards on Thursday, January 12, 2017. Nearly a thousand employees, family members, and industry representatives from throughout the state gathered for the luncheon ceremony, which was held at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort.
“We’re very proud to recognize the people who are the heart and soul of our visitor industry. They number in the tens of thousands across the state, and those we’re saluting today represent the finest among them. I’ve said many times before that while visitors are attracted by the four Ss—sun, sand, sea, and surf—it’s really another S, the spirit of aloha, that makes the greatest impression on people. The Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana honorees embody the aloha spirit at work and in the community, and we owe them a tremendous debt for their contributions to the success of our industry," said Mufi Hannemann, HLTA president and CEO.
A total of 14 awards were presented at the event, emceed by Hawaii State Senator Glenn Wakai, Senate Tourism Chair and HLTA Director of Communications Alexandra Roth.
Recipients of HLTA’s accolades are selected based on nominations submitted by their supervisors and co-workers, and are judged on the basis of outstanding and exceptional service to lodging guests, co-workers, and the community.
This year’s Na Po‘e Paahana award winners and runners-up are as follows:
Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year
1st Place – Lisalani Baybayan, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
2nd Place – Alyssa Lende Kane, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
3rd Place – Rosie Newton, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
Manager of the Year
1st Place – Precy Burbano, Mauna Lani Hotel & Bungalows
2nd Place – Eric Au, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
3rd Place – Kenneth Duane Sparkman, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
Housekeeper of the Year
1st Place – Eddie Macoco, Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort and Spa
2nd Place – Nenilia Eugenio, Trump International Hotel Waikiki
3rd Place – Irene Abordo, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
Food & Beverage Person of the Year
1st Place – Mark Gonsalves, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
2nd Place – Yuen Nam Wong, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
3rd Place – Alona Watson, The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas
Engineering/Maintenance Person of the Year
1st Place – Danny Chounramany, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
2nd Place – Myron Yamamoto, Mauna Lani Hotel & Bungalows
3rd Place – Michael Sakaida, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
Front Office Person of the Year
1st Place – Sherrie Smith, Waikiki Resort Hotel
2nd Place – Iwalani Segovia, Ala Moana Hotel
3rd Place – Nancy Jones, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
Bell/Valet Person of the Year
1st Place – Kawika Maeda, Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
2nd Place – Ross Ramelb, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
3rd Place – Ernesto Cabrera, Maui Beach Hotel
Security Officer of the Year
1st Place – Jose Castellanos, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
2nd Place – Curtis Aiwohi, Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort and Spa
3rd Place – Jarrett Hew, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
Allied Member of the Year
Oahu Publications, Inc. was named the Allied Member of the Year. The company was recognized as a valuable member of the HLTA for its support of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry and the community.
Leader in Sustainability Award
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, for their exemplary sustainability practices including innovative solutions to reducing the hotels energy and water usage.
Hospitality Educator of the Year
Jerry Agrusa, Hawaii Pacific University, for his strong engagement with the HLTA and enduring support of Hawai‘i’s future hospitality leaders.
Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Legacy Award
Society of Seven, for playing an instrumental role in Hawaii’s visitor industry through the field of culture, arts, and entertainment for 5 decades.
Woman of the Year Award
Barbara Campbell, Outrigger Enterprises Group, for her leadership within the hospitality industry, community and HLTA’s Women in Lodging & Tourism committee.
Restaurateur of the Year
Roy Yamaguchi, for his significant contributions to Hawai‘i’s culinary industry and the community.
HLTA was able to honor the late Uncle Tom Moffat as honorary chair for the 38th annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk in one of his last major public appearances. A legend in Hawaii's entertainment world, Moffatt was known for bringing greats such as Elvis Presley, Michael and Janet Jackson, and The Rolling Stones to the islands and promoting home grown talents, including Dick Jensen, C&K, Kalapana, and of course Bruno Mars with many others. Read more in the December 28 issue of Midweek - Island Matters.
Also in the article is "The Oscars of Hospitality," an introduction to HLTA's 27th annual Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards. This year the ceremony will be held on January 12, 2017 at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort Grand Ballroom, and will feature a brand new award for chef/restaurateur of the year!
Nearly 30 members supported the Salvation Army Angel Tree Project this morning by distributing hundreds of gifts and Christmas Trees to those in need! Many HLTA members fulfilled the wishes of the recipients by donating over a hundred items for children and seniors prior to the distribution. Then this morning they rolled up their sleeves and helped hand out the gifts to the long line of deserving recipients. Each year, the Salvation Army distributes over 20,000 gifts statewide.
Stay in the know
Keep up with HLTA through our blog! Let us know what you think in the comment box below each post.