Tourism Day at the Capitol
Mahalo to all of our HLTA members who participated in making Tourism Day at the Capitol a huge success! Members and our team arrived at the Capitol early on Tuesday morning to set-up for the trade show on the 4th floor where industry partners could meet legislators and share their products and services. Participating exhibitors ranged from the hospitality industry to transportation, food and beverage companies and other non-profit organizations. They included A-1 Textiles & Hospitality Products, Alaska Airlines, Aqua-Aston Hospitality, Enterprise Rideshare, Family & Friends of Agriculture, HART, Hawaii Ecotourism Association, Hawaii Pacific University, Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, Hawaii.com, Hawaiian Cool Water, HLTA Kauai Chapter, Home of the Brave, Kaimuki High School, Ko Olina Resort, Kyo-ya/Marriott International, Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Oahu Resource Conservation & Development Council, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, Polynesian Cultural Center, Press Reader, Royal Hawaiian Center, the Orchid Lei Company, The Tea Chest, University of Hawaii, Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, Windward Community College and Tiki’s Bar & Grill.
The morning kicked off with breakfast-talk story format. Hotel GM’s and allied executives were there from every county and everyone of the lawmakers who attended were introduced at the gathering. We were also favored with remarks from Senate President Ron Kouchi and the Governor’s Administrative Director Ford Fuchigami. During our chit-chats we were able to remind legislators of our top priority issues: the Airport Corporation, Transient Vacations Rentals, Homelessness and Public Safety and raise concerns of our opposition to any new taxes on the hospitality industry. Thank you to all our members who helped us with planning, preparation and execution of the event, including many of our lawmakers staffs- we couldn’t have done it without you!
Visitor Public Safety Conference
Another reminder again to please register and join us next week Tuesday, February 27 for the Visitor Public Safety Conference at the Sheraton Waikiki from 8-3:15 p.m. A committee of civic-minded stake holders have been hard at work helping us assemble a stellar group of speakers, including HPD Police Chief Susan Ballard and City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and panelists who will address timely and appropriate topics on public safety and how we can keep the Hawaiian Islands a premier safe destination for visitors and residents. Q & A opportunities will also be a part of every session.
To register please go to www.hawaiilodging.org or to obtain more information about the conference please contact Jared Higashi email@example.com.
WIL Event Honors Woman of the Year and Scholarship Recipient
Mahalo to everyone who joined us at the Women In Lodging quarterly networking event to honor Woman of the Year recipient, Teri Orton. Teri is the General Manager of Hawaii Convention Center/AEG Facilities and has been an active member of HLTA and we congratulate her for a job well done and her commitment through the years to our industry. More than 100 guests attended the event held at Wisp Restaurant & Lounge at the Lotus Honolulu on February 22 to make it a great night for our guests of honor. and partake in the networking opportunity. The other honoree of the evening was WIL scholarship recipient and Kapiolani Community College student, Cassandra Robinson. Cassandra was awarded a $1,000 scholarship towards her studies as a hospitality major. The following Women in Lodging who serve as board members were also recognized that evening which include Julie Arigo, Denise Wardlow, Lisa Paulson, Karen Fowler, Chelsea Tsuchida and Carrie Takahama and new board members Michelle Harrison, Karen Wataru-Nakaoka, Debbie Murakami and Conchita Malaqui. I know I speak for everyone who attended the event that we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Mahalo to WIL chair Pam Yagi for your leadership!
Mahalo Alex; Aloha Melina, Ashley, and Jessica:
As you all know, I have been fortunate at HLTA to be working with some dedicated and outstanding personnel through the years. Unfortunately, this month we are saying goodbye to a staff member who will be taking her talents to assist one of our affiliated members to promote Hawaii tourism on the mainland.
Alex Roth will be joining the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau’s Travel Industry Partnerships team as Regional Director – U.S. East. She will be promoting the Hawaiian Islands to travel agents in the East Coast and will be moving to New York in March. Alex has been a dynamic member of the HLTA team and while we are sad to see her go, we are very happy for her and wish her all the best in her new journey. Also with the departure of Malia Kahale in December to join the Orchid Lei Company, I have taken the opportunity to re-organize staff responsibilities and bring on board some energetic and hard-working individuals to enhance our abilities to serve you.
Our new Director of Membership and Communications will be Melina Hicks. Melina previously held positions at Oahu Publications Inc as Audience Development Coordinator and Marketing and Promotions Coordinator. She has also worked as Talent Engagement Coordinator at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Weekend Morning Producer at KVBC Channel 3 News in Las Vegas, and Production Assistant at WFLD-TV Fox News in Chicago. At HLTA, Melina will focus primarily on growing and maintaining the association’s membership, as well as managing HLTA’s membership database, and handling communications and public relations. Also as a resident of Kapolei, she will serve as a liaison with the growing number of lodging accommodations that we have in West Oahu.
Ashley Yonamine will fill the newly created position of Executive Assistant. She will help manage HLTA’s website, database, and communication efforts, and assist me and the staff administratively. Ashley has previously worked as a Management Trainee at the JW Marriott in Shanghai China, and Disney College Program Intern at Disney in Orlando. She is also a Realtor-Associate at Keller Williams, and has work experience as a property manager, bookkeeper, and events producer.
With an extensive background in accounting, Jessica Caires will take on the new position of Director of Fiscal Services to manage HLTA’s and HHIF's budget and finances. She has recently held positions as an accountant at Liliuokalani Trust, Remedy Intelligent Staffing, and Hawaii Garage Doors. She holds a Master of Business Administration as well as a Bachelor of Accounting from Chaminade University.
We look forward to having you meet our exciting new team in the near future as they will all assume their responsibilities this month. Thanks for all your support of HLTA!
Good news on the legislative front!
I would like to reiterate our success as we continue to navigate through the first half of the legislative session. Yesterday, we had a very big victory as our priority measure on transient vacation rentals, Senate Bill 2963 SD1, which we strongly support, has passed through the Senate with an overwhelming vote of twenty-five ayes to zero noes. If you have a chance to speak to Ways and Means Chair, Senator Dela Cruz, or Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology Chair, Senator Wakai, please thank them for their support in championing this measure. The bill will now head to the House of Representatives where we will continue to ask for your engagement in supporting this measure. For more information on SB 2963 SD1 please click here.
Transient Accommodations Tax Update:
The legislative session is in full swing and we are making progress on some of our priority issues for this session. Thank you to everyone who submitted testimony in strong support of our transient vacation rental measure of choice SB 2999, which allows transient accommodations brokers to register as a tax collection agent on behalf of all its operators and plan managers and addresses the issues of transparency, enforcement and accountability. As an update, Senate Bill 2999 was introduced but was inappropriately titled “Taxation” as it also addressed county land use laws, enforcement, and proper registration. Therefore, to avoid a legal challenge with respect to the appropriate title, the language from SB2999 was inserted into another bill with a more accurate title of “Transient Accommodations”. All the accountability, transparency, and enforcement of the original measure have now been carried into the new bill.
As an update, both SB2963 SD1 and SB2999 passed out of the two committees yesterday. SB 2999 was stripped down to specifically address the Tax Amnesty Program proposed in its original language. SB2963 SD1 was passed with the substantive section of the initial transient vacation rental language that deals with transparency, enforcement and accountability for both the brokers and the operators included in the bill. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means will be releasing a clean version of the bill in the next couple of days.
In the meantime, if you have a chance, please be sure to thank the measure’s champions- Ways and Means Chair Dela Cruz, and Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology Chair Wakai, for their leadership on these measures.
For additional information or questions regarding the bill, contact myself or Jared of my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Embassy Suites Talk & Tour:
Mahalo to those of you who attended the Coffee Talk & Tour last week at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei. We are witnessing more and more lodging accommodations being built on the west side of Oahu. Over 30 attendees were treated to an Embassy Suites signature full American breakfast and tour of the property, which included guest rooms/suites, restaurant, lounge, pool, and a fitness center. General Manager Reid Yoshida and Director of Sales and Marketing Milton Lafitaga also addressed the group, sharing their experience throughout the process of opening the hotel.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei offers 180 suites of which some offer a lanai with a scenic ocean view. The property boasts amenities such as a sundeck with an outdoor pool, whirlpool and on-property restaurants such as Sprig’s Grille, which services lunch and dinner while Manamana Lounge Bar is available poolside for daytime snacks and beverages.
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