On Monday, the Legislature convened a public hearing at the Hawai‘i State Capitol Auditorium with key government entities and the general public on state funding for the City & County of Honolulu’s rail project.
The hearing was led by the respective chairs of the Senate Committees on Ways and Means, Transportation and Energy, and Public Safety, Intergovernmental & Military Affairs alongside their counterparts in the House Committees on Finance, and Transportation. What turned out to be a seven-hour briefing served as a prolong discussion between the State Legislature, the City & County of Honolulu, the County Councils, and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. The lengthy discussions between these bodies of government and HART not only set the groundwork for the real question at hand, which is how will we be funding Honolulu’s rail system.
Prior to the public hearing, five options were presented by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means covering the potential funding mechanisms necessary to finance the Honolulu Rail system. These proposals included a mix of extending and raising the general excise tax, adding an increase to the transient accommodations tax, and discussions on whether funding for this project should come just from Oahu or statewide.
In response to the potential inclusion of the transient accommodations tax to the funding formula, over 50 hospitality leaders and associates from the HLTA membership made their way down to the capitol to share our concerns during the briefing. I would like to send my mahalo to all those who came out to rally for the industry on Monday, to those who sent in testimony for the hearing, and to the 142 individuals that signed on to HLTA’s letter opposing a raise to the TAT, which I presented to the executive branch and key political leaders. Also kudos to Rick Egged, Ed Case, and Mike White who joined me in offering public testimony. We will continue to stay vigilant as we near the tentative special session date of August 28th. We appreciate the engagement of those that have participated in the process thus far and we will continue to seek your support for this very important issue.
In other HLTA news, over the weekend, tourists and locals in the International Market Place got a glimpse of Hawaii’s Golden Days as a statue of music legend Don Ho was unveiled in the very place he used to reign supreme with his nightly entertainment at the popular Duke Kahanamoku's night club. To celebrate the statue, a blessing ceremony with speakers and performances by the Ho family and Kimo Kahoano took place in the early afternoon, followed by special entertainment by Hawaiian music all-stars, Melveen Leed, Marleen Sai, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Kimo Kahoano, Nathan Aweau, Henry Kapono, and more. During the entertainment portion, my staff and I presented in conjunction with the Pauahi Foundation, the first-ever Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association Don Ho Legacy Scholarship to this year’s inaugural recipient Daylan-Blake Kala‘i, who will be attending New York University to pursue performing arts this Fall. Joining us on stage to make the presentation was Haumea Ho, Uncle Don's widow. We were following through on a commitment we had made to Haumea and son Dwight when we presented Don Ho, posthumously with the Na Poe Paahana Legacy Award in 2016 that we would establish such a scholarship in his honor. I also commended Jack and Cha Thompson of Tihati Productions for raising funds years ago to enable HLTA to recognize the arts and music in this fashion. Congratulations to Michael Fenley, the GM of International Market Place and his staff for a job well done.
On Monday, several members of HLTA attended a presentation by Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy for Americans for the Arts, who shared compelling research from the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) report. This national study, conducted by Americans for the Arts and implemented in Hawaii by the Hawaii Arts Alliance, details the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in the State of Hawaii. The AEP5 report showed that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $205.6 million industry in the State of Hawai‘i, and supports 5,968 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $23.2 million in local and state government revenue. Nationally, a U.S. Department of Commerce study found that the arts is a $730 billion industry- 4.2% of the GDP. This shows that the arts not only enhance our quality of life, but is also a viable economic driver in our communities that intersect with many industries, including tourism. To read the report, visit the Hawaii Arts Alliance website: http://www.hawaiiartsalliance.org/aep5. For more information about Americans for the Arts and the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, visit http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/arts-economic-prosperity-5
Finally, mahalo to all our sponsors, volunteers, and golfers who attended HLTA’s 18th annual Scholarship Golf Tournament last week Thursday at the Hawaii Prince Golf Course. Together we raised over $55,000 to support HLTA scholarships and educational programs! I’d also like to give a shout out to emcees Kimo Kahoano and Senator Brickwood Galuteria who did a great job announcing our prize winners and conducting a live auction that evening to continue with the day’s festivities.
My staff and I with our inaugural Don Ho Legacy Scholarship recipient Daylan-Blake Kala'i and Haumea Ho at the Interational Market Place.
We hope to see you this Thursday, August 10 for our annual Scholarship Golf Tournament at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club in Ewa. Our golf committee and staff have been working hard to ensure a fantastic time. Mahalo to all our wonderful sponsors who are providing fun, food, drinks, and prizes throughout the day, and to all our teams who are contributing greatly to our scholarship fund. In addition to a slew of door prizes, there will be two great live-auction items for you to bid on: a trip on Hawaiian Air to New Zealand with a stay at the beautiful The Spencer on Byron Hotel and a trip to San Diego on Alaska Airlines with accommodations at the fabulous Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
As you know, the Scholarship Golf Tournament supports the many grants we give to aspiring young students, many of whom aspire to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. This year we have supported over ten students in their educational pursuits, in addition to the 42 students we provide scholarships for at our annual Citizen-Scholar Awards.
This Sunday, August 13, 2017, the International Market Place will be unveiling a statue in tribute to Don Ho at the Banyan court near Kalakaua Avenue. The ceremony will begin at 1:30p.m. with a blessing ceremony, speakers, and performances by the Ho family and Kimo Kahoano. Later that evening, there will be special entertainment by Hawaiian music all-stars, Melveen Leed, Marleen Sai, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Kimo Kahoano, Henry Kapono, and more. HLTA will also be presenting our Don Ho Legacy Scholarship to this year’s inaugural recipient Daylan-Blake Kalai, who will be attending New York University this Fall. If you are in the area, please join us to recognize this Hilo native and recent graduate from Kamehameha Schools on the Big Island, where he was greatly involved in the performing arts program. Last year, Kalai starred in the Hawaiian language opera Ha‘upu, which took him and his classmates to Edinburgh, Scotland to perform in the world’s largest performing arts festival.
On the legislative front, we are actively addressing our industry’s concerns with funding the Rail project through any increase of the transient accommodations tax. On Monday, August 14, there will be a public informational briefing at 10 a.m. in the State Capitol auditorium. We encourage all our members to attend this briefing and oppose increases to the TAT. Key committee chairs and members from both the House of Representatives and the State Senate will be in attendance to hear from the public as they work on an agreement on rail funding. Please submit testimony via email to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy at TRETestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov. Testimony may be submitted up to 24 hours prior to the start of the informational briefing. Please feel free to use our attached HLTA letter as a guide for your testimony and we ask that you also include your own specific examples on how increasing the TAT will be harmful to your business and the industry. This will make your testimony much more personal and unique. It is going to take a herculean effort from us all if we are going to persuade the legislature to eliminate the TAT as a potential funding source. It is critical that we have a strong showing. Unlike a legislative session that lasts 4 months, we’re talking about a special session that is 5 days in length and an informational briefing. Please do everything, if you’re in town, to rearrange your schedule to be there. Once again please feel free to contact Jared Higashi or anyone of us at HLTA if you have any questions.
HLTA had the pleasure of honoring John Shaw of Securitas Security Services with the Kahiau Award for selfless generosity last night at our Hospitality Industry Pau Hana at SKY Waikiki. As a Securitas Assistant District Contract Security Manager at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye Airport, John is not only committed to his job (he once saved a visitor's life with CPR), but he is also extremely active in the community, volunteering with numerous organizations and even portrays Santa Claus during the holidays with HPD's 'Shop with a Cop’ program for families in need and the Kapiolani Children’s Hospital. Read more about John and previous Kahiau award recipients here.
HLTA members continue to be very engaged in our community. For example, last week the Engineers Advisory Council initiated phase two of the theater stage rebuilding project at Kaiser High School. Throughout the week, Dennis Maher and his family, Stephen Weldon, and Chris Spencer (EAC chair and executive board members) not only hauled the lumber and materials into the Kaiser theater room, but worked on laying out the stage foundation every night so it would be completed by the weekend. Then on Saturday, eight members and volunteers came together to work on laying down additional foundation work, erecting walls, and putting in doorways. Members of the EAC will be constructing the finishing touches over the next week or two, installing railings, stairs, and flooring. Mahalo to the EAC and all the volunteers who are working hard to complete this project! If you are interested in volunteering for a great cause, contact Dennis Maher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As mentioned in a previous Mufi’s Message, HLTA Oahu Chapter held a Back to School Supplies Drive at Kahala Mall, where they collected four large boxes of supplies and $500 in cash to donate to two Waikiki Elementary Schools. Last Friday, HLTA’s Oahu chapter, represented by Oahu Chapter Chair Bonnie Kiyabu, HLTA VP Dean Nakasone, and HLTA member Jodi Uehara, dropped off $500 worth of Longs gift cards to Principals Michelle DeBusca and Joseph Passantino of Ala Wai and Aliiolani Elementary Schools, who were very grateful. In fact, Principal DeBusca mentioned that in the case of her school, HLTA's gift would be donated to students who were victims of the Marco Polo fire as it will help them purchase their school supplies. Mahalo to all who participated in this terrific service project.
As many of you know, the legislative special session on funding for the Rail Project may have possible impacts on the transient accommodations tax. I have indicated in previous presentations and at our last board of directors meeting in July, we as an association will continue to have ongoing meetings and briefings regarding this issue. As a follow up to previous discussions, we will be holding a special meeting on Monday, August 7th at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm. The meeting will include a presentation and a Q & A segment with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s (HART) interim director, Krishniah N. Murthy. Following his presentation, we will be sharing with you the latest proposals circulating in the legislature as well as bring you up to date on all the discussions we have had with key legislators in preparation of the special session that is tentatively scheduled for August 28th. To attend this meeting, please RSVP to Jared Higashi by Friday, August 4. Space is limited and priority seating is reserved for board members.
HLTA Oahu Chapter's Bonnie Kiyabu and Dean Nakasone with Ala Wai principal Michelle DeBusca (left) and Dean, Bonnie, and Jodi Uehara with Aliiolani principal Joseph Passantino (right).
With our Citizen-Scholar, Charity Walk, and Trade Expo events all taking place back to back over the past several months, we have taken a short hiatus from our Hospitality Industry Pau Hana (HIP) events at SKY Waikiki. Rest assured, the HIP events are still going strong, and we have one coming up next Wednesday, August 2 from 5-7pm. This month we are partnering with Securitas Security Services and honoring our Kahiau award recipient John Shaw, Securitas Assistant District Contract Security Manager at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. In addition to being an exceptional employee and exuding the Aloha Spirit at the airport, John also is a retired HPD sergeant and an avid volunteer in the community.
Sanj Sappal, Area Vice President of Securitas does a great job leading his team and continuously engaging with HLTA. Securitas was a recipient of HLTA's Allied Member of the Year award in 2013, and they frequently support events such as HLTA's General Membership Meeting and Scholarship Golf Tournament. We look forward to partnering with Securitas and honoring John Shaw’s selfless generosity next week. To join us at the HIP event, click here.
As many of you know, last October HLTA presented a $25,000 grant to Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. (KEO) at HLTA’s 189th General Membership Meeting held at the Sheraton Kauai Resort. The funds, which come from HLTA’s 501(c)3 nonprofit arm Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation, were intended to provide assistance to eligible clientele who are ready to relocate to a safe shelter and pursue sustainable employment, as well as to repatriate some of the homeless back to their loved ones on the mainland.
Since then, KEO, under the direction of CEO MaBel Ferreiro-Fujiuchi, has successfully provided transportation costs for four homeless individuals to return to their home states, where they will live and pursue employment to gain self-sufficiency. The caveat of this funding is that candidates must have a support system in place back home, and be able to provide half the cost of the flight.
The first of the four individuals to return was a 40-year-old man from Alaska. While his situation in Hawaii could barely afford him food and clothes, he did have a family member across the ocean who was willing to give him a place to live. KEO and HLTA’s funding helped him get there. After he arrived in Alaska, the KEO staff contacted the individual’s mother, who assured them that he was in her care.
Soon after this case, KEO helped three more individuals return to their home states of Nevada, New Mexico, and Montana. KEO is currently working on two more repatriation cases.
These success stories prove a testament to what the visitor industry’s contributions have been able to accomplish. KEO has done a fabulous job utilizing our contribution as a true catalyst for change on the Garden Isle. I know there will be many more stories like this to come in the near future, both from KEO and from the many other agencies our industry supports.
This recent contribution to KEO was done in consultation with Mayor Bernard Carvalho. In 2015, HLTA in collaboration with Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and the Institute for Human Services (IHS) donated $25,000 to a group called the Maui Family Life Center to support its airline relocation program and help reconnect homeless transplant individuals with their families on the mainland. Similarly, in discussion with Hawaii Island Mayor Harry Kim’s office, HLTA intends to give another $25,000 to agencies on the Big Island this Fall.
30 attendees joined HYPE Kauai on a sunset sail and networking event on July 23, 2017 along the island's south shore. They had a great time enjoying pupus, making new connections, and taking in Kauai's breathtaking views.
Last week HLTA unveiled a new partnership with three aio Media owned magazines -- HONOLULU, Hawaii Business and HAWAII -- to launch an awards program that honors some of the top achievers in the tourism industry.
The candidates for this new awards program, called the aio Media Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Awards, will be based on public nominations in 16 categories including accommodations, restaurants, events, music, sports, culture and heritage, education and agritourism. A blue-ribbon selection committee will review the nominations and vote on the finalists in each category. The winners will be announced at an awards banquet to be held in mid-November.
Nominations are open to the public and can be made online at www.hawaiimagazine.com/hlta through August 31. We encourage you to nominate your favorite hotel properties, restaurants, events, and activities that you feel are deserving of this recognition. Self-nominations are accepted so don’t be shy to submit your own organization!
As our members know, HLTA gives due recognition to our industry through the Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Awards, which takes place in January each year and honors the hard-working employees on the frontlines of our state’s lodging properties. The aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards is yet another way for us to recognize and say mahalo to the individuals and organizations that work tirelessly for our state’s number-one industry. The awards gala in November will be the perfect way to celebrate that longstanding commitment in harmony with HLTA’s 70th anniversary. We will be announcing the date and venue in the coming weeks and we hope you will be able to join us for this commemorative occasion.
Speaking of anniversaries, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club just celebrated their first anniversary with a 1st Birthday Lu‘au in partnership with the Wahea Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and protecting the fundamental aspects of Hawaiian culture. The birthday bash led by GM Lynette Eastman featured hula performances, Hawaiian music, lei-making, Hawaiian food by Mahina and Sun’s, and cultural demonstrations throughout the day.
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, which was started by the iconic Roy and Estelle Kelly 50 years ago, is also celebrating this year. To kick off their golden anniversary, the resort will celebrate with a special edition of Duke’s on Sunday – July 23 from 4-6 p.m. at Duke’s Waikiki restaurant. Henry Kapono will be playing and bringing along renowned guest performers. On the following night, a VIP “Golden Anniversary” event will take place at Blue Note Hawaii, with special performances from award-winning artists Makana and Henry Kapono. Outrigger will also honor Waikiki Community Center and Queen Emma Land Co. at the event. Congratulations to both The Surfjack and Outrigger Waikiki Beach for their exciting milestones!
Mahalo to all our members and partners who participated in the 2017 Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality, & Foodservice expo this past Wednesday and Thursday! It was fantastic to see the many familiar faces supporting our state's number-one industry! A big mahalo to members Soderholm Sales & Leasing (pictured bottom left) and Tropical J's (pictured bottom right) for their sponsorship towards HLTA's lounge exhibit and educational events. Scroll down for highlights.
Recipients of HLTA Pouhana Hokele Scholarship recognized at board of directors meeting
The scholarship recipients of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association Pouhana Hokele Scholarship were recognized during HLTA's full board of directors meeting on Wednesday. The $1000 scholarships, which underwent a name change this year, went to Bree Blake of Kapi‘olani Community College (KCC) and Trent Sakuma, who also attends KCC. The HLTA Pouhana Hokele scholarship recipients were selected by the Pauahi Foundation for their native Hawaiian ancestry and aspirations to .pursue a career in the visitor industry with an emphasis on hotel management.
Microfridge mini-fridge and microwave donated to Waikiki Community Center
A generous donation by Microfridge was presented to Waikiki Community Center in partnership with HLTA. Microfridge turned to HLTA for a recommendation on a nonprofit agency to award with a brand new mini-fridge and microwave. Waikiki Community Center has been a longtime supporter of HLTA's Charity Walk, and recently started a new education program.
Women in Lodging & Tourism bring awareness to issue of human trafficking
HLTA's Women in Lodging & Tourism committee held an educational session entitled "Human Trafficking: Recognizing the Signs & Taking Action," featuring moderator Jerry Dolak, director of security and safety at Outrigger Resorts and panelists Jessica Munoz, founder and president of nonprofit Ho‘ola Na Pua; Kevin Takata, administrator of the criminal justice division of the state Department of the Attorney General; and Renata Del Moral, victim assistant specialist from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Engineers Advisory Council sheds light on king tides and sea level rise
HLTA's Engineers Advisory Council meeting was held in conjunction with a symposium on king tides and sea level rise, featuring moderator Dean Nakasone, vice president of HLTA, and panelists Dolan Eversole, Coastal Processes Specialist of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program; Bert Takahashi, Chief Engineer of the Sheraton Waikiki Resort; and Sam Lemmo, Administrator of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.
I hope everyone had a fantastic time yesterday at the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality, & Foodservice Expo. It was great to see many of our members at the Neal Blaisdell Center, either hosting a booth or walking the floor. HLTA’s Women in Lodging & Tourism committee held an excellent educational workshop in conjunction with the expo on the growing issue of human trafficking. Mahalo to Jerry Dolak of Outrigger Enterprises Group, Jessica Munoz of Ho’ola Na Pua, Renata Del Morale of the Department of Homeland Security, and Kevin Takata of the Department of the Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Division, who shared informative tips on how to spot a potential victim or trafficker, and how to approach a suspicious situation. While many recognize that this problem exists, the fight against human trafficking is delicate and complex as it is often an “invisible” issue that happens right in our back yard. As I mentioned at today’s event, this matter is not one that is relevant just to women, but to everyone. As I say time and time again, we’re all in this together.
This morning we held an educational symposium on King Tides and sea level rise with the Engineers Advisory Council before the trade show, which proffered an eye-opening reminder of the imminent effects that climate change and sea level rise have on our state, nation, and world. Mahalo to Dolan Eversole of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, Bert Takahashi of the Sheraton Waikiki Resort, and Sam Lemmo of DLNR’s Office of Conservation and Coastal lands, who shared detailed projections on what the tides and sea level rise will prompt our islands to look like in the coming years, and information on what hotels are doing now to temporarily deal with the constant flooding and shoreline erosion. HLTA is aware of these implications and are being proactive in working to address this issue, as it strongly affects our quality of life, environment, and public safety- all critical components of our industry. In addition to today’s educational event, the Engineers Advisory Council has also been very active in community service. Most recently, they held the first phase of their service project at Kaiser High School this past Saturday, July 4, where they are demolishing and rebuilding the school’s theater stage. About 15 volunteers helped demolish the stage on Saturday, and will be rebuilding it later this month. Mahalo to the Engineers Advisory Council for their contributions to our communities, and to Dennis Maher for his leadership with the Council.
We hope to see you again at the expo today (Wednesday). Mahalo to Douglas Trade Shows, Soderholm Sales and Leasing, and Tropical J’s for being generous sponsors of our excellent lounge exhibit in the central concourse between the exhibition hall and arena. Come visit our staff and members, and learn about a new awards gala to be held in November in partnership with HLTA and aio Media, the parent company of HONOLULU Magazine, Hawaii Business Magazine, and HAWAI‘I Magazine. Nominations are now open to recognize the best of the best across a variety of categories spanning hotels and accommodations, restaurants, events, leaders in the industry, and agritourism. Submit your nomination at hawaiimagazine.com/hlta.
HLTA is also offering an incentive for new members to join our association. New members who join between now and July 31 will be entered to win an 808 Travel certificate of round-trip flights for two to a neighbor island on Hawaiian Airlines, coupled with a two-night stay at The Westin Princeville on Kauai. Remember, we still have our member referral incentive going until October 15, so this is a great time to recruit new members. As a reminder, every time you refer 5 new members you will be entered to win a round-trip flight to any Alaska Airlines destination with a three-night stay at a Marriott property. The person who recruits the most members will win a round trip to any Island Air destination with a two-night stay at an Aqua-Aston property.
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