A lot happening on the legislative front:
As we close out the week let me start by apprising you of a few key legislative updates.
Yesterday at Honolulu Hale the City Council’s Public Health, Safety & Economic Development Committee heard Bill 6 (2018) which aims to amend Section 29-16.6, revised Ordinances of Honolulu, to exclude the public nuisance exception of having objects such as rolling kiosks on the sidewalks in the Waikiki Special District. The bill, introduced by Waikiki Councilmember Trevor Ozawa, passed through the committee with all present councilmembers voting in support of the measure. There were many stakeholders from our Visitor Public Safety Conference that attended this hearing submitting testimony of support, and I would like to especially thank those from our membership who heeded the call and came in person to share their own experiences and accounts in dealing with illegal kiosks.
In the legislature one of our key bills, SB2963 which addressed the issue of transient vacation rentals, appeared to be stalled. However, thanks to the support from Senate Tourism Chair Wakai, we were able to revive language from this measure in House Bill 2605 that went through his joint committee hearing with Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs. The proposed Senate Draft, which included language addressing transparency, accountability, tax collection, and county enforcement, garnered a lot of support from the visitor industry, government bodies, business organizations, and the general public and passed through both committees with all members voting “aye”. As the bill moves through the final steps of the legislature it will eventually cross back to the House where we will need the support from all stakeholders in advocating for its passage.
Lastly, let me update you on our priority issue of Homelessness. On Monday, the Senate Committees on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology held a joint hearing with the Committee on Human Services to deliberate and discuss House Bill 2012 HD2. As a refresher, this measure would allocate up to $2 million from the general coffers of the TAT to the Hawaii Tourism Authority to implement initiatives, in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas. The funds from this measure would only be available as matching monies to private sector contributions which lends a prime opportunity for us to match donations from our Visitor Industry Charity Walk, across the state, to homelessness projects. The measure was passed out of the joint committee hearing with all members in attendance voting in support. The measure now heads to the Committee on Ways and Means before going to third reading.
The issue of homelessness has single-handedly been one of the most pertinent issues at the forefront of our association, our state’s administration, and the legislature this year. Alongside our advocacy efforts for measures dealing with homelessness, we have also been engaged with the homelessness summits that Health & Human Services Chair, Representative John Mizuno, has been hosting. This morning, I was invited to speak to the House and Senate Committees on Health & Human Services, and the Committees on Housing. I focused the discussion on reiterating our industry’s support of non-profits, with proven track records, that are dealing with the gamut of homelessness services and speaking to the success of the privately funded repatriation programs across the state. The Committees were all very receptive of our initiatives and have explicitly vocalized heavy support for programs dealing with repatriation.
HLTA Kaua‘i’s 21st Annual Malama Awards:
Each year, the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association hosts the statewide Na Po’e Pa’ahana Awards which honors individuals who have contributed to the visitor industry through their exceptional service, professionalism, and aloha spirit. Similar to the Na Po’e Pa’ahana Awards, the HLTA Kaua‘i Chapter hosts their very own Malama Awards which recognizes their Kaua‘i members and the exceptional employees who make Kaua‘i a top-tier global destination. Yesterday marked their 21st annual event which was held at the beautiful Koloa Landing Resort in Poipu. I would like to extend my congratulations to all the individuals who were recognized last night - it is largely because of your hard work and spirit of Aloha that truly makes Hawai’i no ka oi.
I would also like to recognize Denise Wardlow, GM of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, and Kauai Chapter Chair Jim Braman, GM of the Cliffs at Princeville, for all their efforts in making this year’s Malama Awards a success.
Finally, let me remind you of our Emergency Management Workshop on missile alerts which we will be hosting alongside the Hawai‘i Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association on Thursday, March 29th at the Ohana Waikiki EAST Hotel. The workshop will feature keynote speakers Jerry Dolak of Outrigger Hotels and Resorts/HHVISA, and Mel Kaku, Director of Emergency Management for the City & County of Honolulu, as they cover preparedness plans that the hotel industry and general public should be aware of.
If you are interested in attending please sign up at the following link, here.
Seats are limited and are based on a first come first served basis.
Happy Prince Kuhio Day!
HLTA & HHVISA Emergency Management Workshop
In the event of an emergency, preparation is imperative. While it is feasible to think that residents may have a plan in place, it is highly unlikely that visitors to our islands would have prepared themselves for a scenario like the January missile alert that left hundreds of thousands in sheer panic. That is why HLTA, in partnership with the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association (HHVISA), is hosting an emergency preparedness workshop at the Outrigger Ohana East on March 29th to address how the public can better equip themselves in the event that a missile attack threatens our shores.
The workshop will cover a couple of subject areas- one will be led by Jerry Dolak, Director of Security & Safety for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and President of HHVISA, who will provide an emergency plan outlining the necessary procedures that properties and companies can implement when faced with the prospect of a nuclear missile attack while prioritizing the safety of our visitors and industry employees. The second will feature the City & County of Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management Director, Mel Kaku, whom was appointed to that position during my tenure as mayor when we created the department to replace the old Civil Defense agency . Kaku and his team will address the pre- and post-preparedness measures that the general public should be aware of in the case of a nuclear missile attack.
If you’re interested in attending this workshop, please contact Jared Higashi of my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seating is limited.
Visitor Public Safety Update
As a follow-up to our Visitor Public Safety Conference held on February 27th, we convened the first of many subsequent meetings to propose solutions on the lessons learned from our panel discussions and keynote speakers (for a full conference recap read Mufi’s Message: March 2, 2018 here). The meeting was attended by the members of our conference steering committee where we discussed the “low hanging fruit” for each panel session and cited important follow up meetings with government officials and private sector businesses that we would like to convene. I have constantly reiterated that the most vital component of this conference , as we did with the Visitor Crime Solution Conference back in 1987 will be the follow up and follow through.
The following snapshot covers such initiatives deliberated by the steering committee which includes: bolstering HPD presence, increasing prison space to free up congestion in the courts system, installing more cameras, particularly in hotspots such as Lewers Street, implementing bollards to help with traffic and pedestrian safety, and creating an active approach to displaying address and street signage in the Waikiki special district. Other action items include: addressing the necessity of cabaret licenses in the Waikiki district; the taking down of pedestrian walls along Kalakaua Avenue that attract unwanted activity; meeting with the City to discuss funding for youth and juvenile programs that have proven track records; supporting legislation that would require the Department of Education to plan for more alternative learning centers; and developing an education plan to encourage businesses and their employees to come forward and be more willing to assist in prosecuting crimes that occur at their establishments. The Visitor Public Safety Conference will be an ongoing process as we seek to continue to fulfill our “checklist” of short and long-term solutions. We plan to to keep you informed and involved with the progress being made on the public safety front.
Senate Bill 2393: Alternative Learning Centers
Alluded to in the above section, the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association has recently submitted support testimony for Senate Bill 2393 which would require the Department of Education to develop a comprehensive plan for alternative learning centers in each of the state’s school complex areas. This would help stem the increase in illegal youth and gang activity taking place in tourism targeted areas like Waikiki.
The bill was heard on March 14th in the House committee on Education where it was passed with all present committee members in support.
The backing of this measure is a direct result of our conference’s panel discussion that focused on youth and juvenile reform. During the panel, experts including First Circuit Family Court Judge Mark Browning, Colette Kajiwara, Coordinator of the alternative learning center Storefront School in Wahiawa, and Deborah Spencer-Chun, President and CEO of Adults Friends for Youth, called for more support for organized youth activities. Such support might include expanding mental health services for at-risk youth, addressing the problems of young people individually rather than in groups to avoid gang and peer pressure, and combating drug use. As previously stated, our public safety follow-up initiatives include more collaborative efforts with government agencies to support and pass key legislation and SB 2393 presents a promising opportunity to steer our youth to more productive lifestyles.
The Bill now heads to the committee on Finance where we will continue to advocate for its passage.
Click here for more information on SB2393.
Get HIP with HLTA
We are pleased to announce that our upcoming HIP event will be at a new venue in April. Please join us in meeting our 3 new team members of HLTA at ABC Store’s BASALT restaurant @ Dukes Lane Market on Wednesday, April 4th from 5-7 pm. HIP, our Hospitality Industry Pau Hana, is a great opportunity to network and meet fellow members of the association. If you’re interested in attending, please click here to register. Hope to see you there!
aio Media Hawai`i Lodging & Tourism Awards Gala
It was a special evening for some of our industry’s top individuals and organizations as they were recognized last night at the aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards held at the Hawaii Convention Center. The purpose of this awards event is to distinguish and reward those who exemplify excellence within our industry. These are the individuals and companies who demonstrate an elevated level of leadership, commitment, and the Aloha Spirit, and have been key in helping us maintain our reputation as one of the best places in the world to visit, relax, and have fun.
Here are this year’s winners:
*Represents HLTA members and member affiliates
I also want to take the time to recognize our HLTA members who were finalists at last night’s awards ceremony:
Congratulations to all the nominees and award winners for your outstanding achievements! A special mahalo to all the sponsors who contributed to the success of this event, our co-emcees Mahealani Richardson and Mileka Lincoln of Hawai‘i News Now, and to Susan Eichor, President & COO of aio Media, and her team for their partnership in the first ever Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Awards.
40th Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk
This past Wednesday marked the official kick off of the 40th annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk on Oahu where nearly 200 recruiters joined us at Dole Cannery’s Pomaikai Ballrooms to drum up excitement for the walk and learn important fundraising information. The morning featured speeches from Senate Tourism Chair Glenn Wakai, who expressed his gratitude to the visitor industry for the tireless efforts they put forth into bettering our community, and Charity Walk Statewide Chair, Glenn Vergara, who shared a heartfelt story of individuals who have gone beyond the call to raise funds. The morning proceeded with the awarding of the perpetual Charity Walk t-shirt contest trophy which was given to team Kyo-ya, Starwood Hotels Waikiki, & Marriott International for their shirt design in 2017. The award was accepted by Ms. Kehaulani Kam, who has been a part of the Charity Walk since its inception in 1978.
I would like to give a shout out to our emcees Dita Holifield, General Manager at Salem Media Hawai‘i, and Sam Kapu Jr. from The Fish 95.5 FM for their phenomenal job at hyping up our attendees and building enthusiasm amongst the team captains and nonprofit representatives. And I would like to send a very big mahalo to Chris Sbarbaro and his team from Enterprise Holdings for “kicking-off” our Charity Walk campaign with a $10,000 check donated to our statewide efforts so that every county will benefit.
For those that missed our Charity Walk Kick-Off Rally please visit us at www.charitywalkhawaii.org where you will find all pertinent information regarding the walk and our collateral pieces available for download.
Lastly, if you’re a non-profit, I want to encourage you to get involved. Your active role in the Charity Walk will only help benefit your organization and in turn, our community. To that end, I highlighted the focuses that take priority when it comes to grant proposals: homelessness, children, education, the elderly, crime and public safety, veterans, and health. Grants are given based on the organization’s level of participation so this is a great opportunity for you to take your efforts to the next level! Last year we were able to raise a record $2.27 million dollars across Hawai‘i which in turn helped benefit 350 non-profit charitable organizations! This year Statewide Chair Glenn Vergara and I would like to challenge you all in helping us set a new record so that we can do even more for our community; after all “We’re All in this Together.”
Homelessness Bill heads to the Senate
While we are on the topic of Charity Walk, let me take a moment to apprise you of one of HLTA’s priority measures at the State Legislature, House Bill 2012. For those of you who may not be familiar with HB2012, this measure would allocate up to $2,000,000 from the general fund of the transient accommodations tax revenues to the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to implement initiatives, in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, to address homelessness in tourism impacted areas. This $2 million dollar allocation would be available as matching funds to private sector contributions (such as the Charity Walk) addressing homelessness programs in visitor impacted locales. The measure, championed by Tourism Chairs Representative Richard Onishi, Senator Glenn Wakai, and Health & Human Services Chair Representative John Mizuno, has successfully passed through the State House of Representatives with unanimous support. The bill has now crossed over to the State Senate and has been referred to the committees on Economic Development, Tourism, & Technology, Human Services, and Ways & Means. HLTA will continue to support this very important measure through every step of the legislative process and we will keep you informed of its status along the way.
For more information or inquiries on how to get involved with the legislative process please feel free to contact Jared Higashi of my staff at email@example.com or at (808) 923-0407.
Visitor Public Safety Conference:
The current influx of headliner news highlighting crimes taking place in our islands set the stage for our association, along with various public safety partners, to host the first ever Visitor Public Safety Conference. After months of planning, our efforts came to fruition this past Tuesday at the Sheraton Waikiki as members from all sectors of our community came together to share their mana’o in a free-flowing format that featured a lively question and answer exchange between panelists and the audience led by moderators Robert Cravalho, former HPD officer, Bulla Eastman from Aqua-Aston Hospitality, and Rick Egged of the Waikiki Improvement Association.
The conference, co-chaired by Honolulu City Council member Trevor Ozawa and I, was a success, with over 200 stakeholders in attendance including members from government, visitor industry affiliates, law enforcement, private businesses, the armed services, and the community. I would like to extend my gratitude to the steering committee, guest speakers, panelists, and moderators for their time and expertise in leading the discussions that took place.
Members in attendance had the opportunity to hear from public safety leaders which included guest speakers Chief Susan Ballard of the Honolulu Police Department and Honolulu’s Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro. Chief Ballard reiterated the strong focus that HPD is putting towards the continued safety of our visitors and residents and addressed the issue of barring cabaret licenses that operate till 4 a.m. in the Waikiki District. Prosecutor Kaneshiro spoke to the congestion in our courts system and how it consequently leads to a revolving door for criminals, and as a result posed a strong argument for the need for more prison space.
The conference’s four featured panels each highlighted the problems that we currently face on the public safety front. Our first panel addressed law enforcement, which amongst topics on homelessness and drug trafficking really brought to light an issue plaguing our police department, prosecutor’s office, and businesses in Waikiki, and that is the lack of crimes being successfully reported. They really drove home the point, especially First Deputy Prosecutor Chasid Sapolu and HPD Acting Captain Eric Yosemori, that victims of crime need to be more willing to testify and prosecute.
Our second panel, focused on crimes against visitors which called for an increase in police presence in the Waikiki district. Longtime Waikiki Commander, now HPD Deputy Chief, John McCarthy offered valuable observations based on his many years of battling crime in Waikiki. He also reiterated Chief Ballard’s suggestion that there needs to be a serious discussion on the merits of cabaret establishments that dispense alcohol till 4 a.m. Jessica Lani Rich outlined the proactive steps that VASH undertakes when helping a tourist who has been a victim of an unfortunate incident while visiting Hawai‘i. HHVISA’s Jerry Dolak presented an action plan that calls for more HPD foot patrol, more security cameras, more businesses willing to trespass criminal offenders, more stores and restaurants willing to prosecute, and more ways to call or tip HPD without using 911.
Our lunch session spotlighted Acting Major Jay Trinidad from HPD accompanied by members from both the Army and Naval branches of our military. The panel discussion illustrated a need for increased dialogue and communication between businesses, HPD, and the military. It was refreshing for all to hear that the military does look forward to receiving our input and suggestions on dealing with some of the more sensitive issues with respect to tourism.
Lastly, we closed the afternoon with experts in the field of Youth and Juvenile Reform. The panel focused on issues surrounding the physical, social and psychological dynamics feeding into our juvenile crimes. Acting Major J. Pedro led off by highlighting HPD programs that work well with young people such as the Police Activities League, while First Circuit Court Judge Mark Browning spoke on the woefully deficient mental health resources available for at-risk youth. Adult Friends for Youth’s Deborah Spencer-Chun touched on the need to address the problems of young people in groups, as opposed to individually servicing them as they tend to regress back into criminal habits through gang mentality and peer pressure, and Wahiawa Storefront School’s Colette Kajiwara expressed the need to do more in combatting the proliferation of drug use in youth circles. At the end of the day all the problems pointed to one underlying challenge and that is the lack of sufficient funding to provide essential programs and critical support services.
The conference was a success on all fronts and truly serves as just the first step in an ongoing process. Now that we’ve had the opportunity to bring all concerned parties to the table the next objective, as I stated at the conference, is to build a checklist of short and long term solutions which we will work to execute upon. The Visitor Public Safety Steering Committee will be meeting next week to start phase-two. Stay tuned as we keep you updated on the progress that we are making.
Charity Walk & aio Media/HLTA Awards
Charity Walk is our biggest event of the year. This year, our 40th Anniversary, is rapidly approaching on May 19th! Our neighbor island chapters are beginning their preparation as well. Our Oahu Charity Walk kick-off will begin with a rally at Dole Cannery’s Pomaikai Ballroom on Wednesday, March 7th. This will be a great opportunity for team recruiters to pick up their packets and collateral pieces. If you or a representative is unable to attend, please coordinate directly with the HLTA Office to pick up your materials. For more information, click here. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jared Higashi at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Charity Walk website, www.charitywalkhawaii.org
Lastly, the aio Media Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Awards are on March 8th. We’ve already sold over 300 tickets, and registration closes Friday. If you’re interested in attending, please purchase your tickets here. For additional inquiries, please contact Melina Hicks at email@example.com
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