Congratulations Chris Tatum, the New HTA President
On behalf of the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, the state’s largest private sector visitor industry organization, I offer my sincere congratulations to longtime friend, Chris Tatum, who has just been unanimously confirmed today as the new President & CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
He is a diligent and experienced executive, who has played a pivotal role in Hawai‘i’s visitor industry since his permanent return to Hawai‘i in 2001. While a student at Radford High School , he began working in tourism as a summer employee at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which eventually led to him being Area General Manager of Marriott Resorts Hawaii. Additionally, Chris has served in a variety of leadership positions that buttressed his Marriott career path - from being the former chairman of the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association in 2010- 2011 , when I was first hired to head HLTA , to the current Chairperson of the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau, Chris has truly devoted his time and talents to our industry.
Having known Chris for many years I can personally attest to his passion and meticulous work ethic which will serve him well in his new capacity at the helm of HTA. As a board member of HLTA, he has co-chaired our Government Affairs Committee so he is very familiar with our issues and priorities at the big square building and at the county level.
We look forward to our partnership with HTA’s new leadership and anticipate great things ahead as we work collaboratively. Congratulations Chris!
Rotary Club of Waikiki
Following my speech at the Hawai‘i Ecotourism Association’s annual luncheon (see Mufi’s Message 11/16), I was invited to be the speaker at the Rotary Club of Waikiki’s meeting at the ‘Alohilani Resort this past Wednesday.
For those who may not be familiar with the Rotary Club of Waikiki, this group of philanthropically-driven members has a long history as one of the largest Rotary Clubs in Hawai‘i. Chartered in 1939, the organization is comprised of business, professional, and community leaders who strive to exemplify the Rotary motto of 'Service Above Self' in their daily lives.
I have had the honor of speaking to Rotary Clubs in Hawai‘i on a number of occasions and through different professional capacities. This week, I had a hana hou performance on my presentation to the Hawaii Eco-tourism Association and continued my discussions on overtourism and the importance of managing tourism better. Having worn many “visitor industry” hats in both the public and private sectors I have always advocated the point that we as a state need to focus on quality tourism rather than quantity of tourists. I pointed to specific examples from cities around the world that have resorted to draconian measures in dealing with the issue of overtourism. Some jurisdictions have instituted visitor caps, while other countries have gone to extreme measures, one example being the island of Boracay (Phillipines), which was closed to tourists, by Presidential order, for 6 months to allow for environmental and infrastructural restoration.
The issue of overtourism in our state is nowhere close to some of those severe cases around the world, but as we near the 10 million annual visitor mark, we must stay proactive in addressing this concern. As I alluded to in an aforementioned Mufi’s Message, I applaud the HLTA Kaua‘i Chapter and MHLA for the work they have accomplished with their respective county governments and industry partners in coming out with tourism strategic plans that address this very pertinent topic. Next is for Oahu, Hawai‘i Island, and the State as a whole to come up with similar initiatives.
I would like to extend a warm mahalo to Rotary Club of Waikiki’s President, Stephen Morgan, my introducer, Gene Grounds, the board of directors, and the lively Rotarians for having me speak to them about this timely topic.
Call for Salvation Army Bell Ringers!
Please join us next Thursday, December 6th for Oahu Chapter’s annual Salvation Army Bell Ringing Drive from 9 am to 11 am. We will be positioned at 6 locations throughout Waikiki: the Waikiki Business Plaza, Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa, Outrigger Waikiki Beach, Waikiki Beachwalk, and the Waikiki Bank of Hawaii.
If you’d like to participate please email Melina Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at (808) 923-0407 to sign up for a shift. Come out and help “ring” in the holidays for those in need during the Christmas season. Monies raised every year from the Red Kettle Campaign help the Salvation Army provide gifts for at-risk keiki, assist families struggling during the holidays, and feed the hungry throughout the islands.
Make sure to bring your holiday spirit on December 6th, we look forward to seeing you there!
HLTA New Year's Party, January 10th
Help us kick off 2019 at the HLTA New Year’s Party on Thursday, January 10th at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Members of our Oahu Chapter committee & HLTA staff are working hard to make it a party you won’t forget! Stay tuned as we release more details in the coming weeks.
Project Vision Executive Director Annie Valentin, left, and Hawai'i County Councilmember-elect Ashley Kierkiewicz, right, with HLTA President Mufi Hannemann.
When the news first spread that the Puna area was experiencing significant lava flow from the fissures in the area, everyone was concerned. And while donation drives and financial contributions are always helpful, we wanted to help in a different way: a more long-term solution to a long-term situation.
Though the lava flows have subsided since August, we know that the families who have been displaced by this event are still experiencing major challenges. Shelters are overcrowded, and everyday conveniences are easily taken for granted.
Project Vision Hawaii, which operates Project HiEHiE, dispatched their first trailer to Hawaii Island on June 12th, to support the Puna temporary micro-housing units, managed by HOPE Services Hawaii, which do not have plumbing. Through HLTA’s charitable arm, the Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation, we contributed an initial $5,000 to fund the unit’s operation and maintenance during this period.
The HiEHiE mobile hygiene center contains private units, each with a shower and toilet; one unit is ADA-accessible, and even includes a diaper-changing station.
But that trailer is still needed on Oahu, to serve its original, intended purpose: to provide a hot shower and personal sanitation resources to those who are experiencing homelessness. So, another hygiene unit was commissioned, and I was pleased to be present for the blessing. HLTA was proud to present an additional $15,000 towards the operation and maintenance of Project HiEHiE’s new sanitation center on Hawai‘i island as part of its disaster relief efforts.
Kudos to Project Vision Executive Director Annie Valentin, as well as HOPE Services Hawai’i CEO Brandee Menino, and newly elected Hawaii County Councilmember Ashley Kierkiewicz for their outstanding efforts in making Project HiEHiE a success
Hawaii Ecotourism Association
Hawaii Ecotourism Association Board Member Annette Kaohelaulii, who has actively represented the HEA booth at HLTA's Tourism Day at the Capitol.
This past Tuesday, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Hawai‘i Ecotourism Association’s (HEA) annual awards luncheon at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel. For those of you who may not be familiar with this organization they are all about making travel “ pono “ and their mission is “to protect Hawaii’s unique natural environment and host culture through the promotion of responsible travel and educational programs relating to sustainable tourism for residents, businesses and visitors.” The timing could not have been better, as I recently broached the issue of “overtourism” in my state of the industry address at our General Membership Meeting last month as a subject that we need to be engage with seriously, or risk being dictated to by those that may not appreciate or understand tourism as well.
HEA Board President Chris Barzman’s had heard my comments on a Hawai‘i Public Radio segment on sustainable tourism that also featured State House Tourism Chair Richard Onishi and Elizabeth Churchill, the Owner of Churchill Group LLC, and the former Chief Revenue Officer for Aqua-Aston Hospitality. That interview prompted him to extend the invitation.
In sync with their mission, I decided to gear my speech to the topics of overtourismand sustainable tourism which is becoming more and more prevalent as we inch closer towards the 10 million annual visitor mark in Hawaii. The core message of my presentation focused on the underlying theme that “it is not enough to focus on the marketing of tourism- we need to be equally as concerned about prioritizing managing tourism better. “ It has been my mantra from day one when I served as the Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism in the early 90’s that we, as a state, need quality tourism versus quantity tourism.
I also pointed to my experiences as a former councilmember and as the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu to highlight the importance of sustaining our infrastructure and our cultural identity. This was prevalent during my tenure in office in leading efforts to preserve important natural resources such as Hanauma Bay and Waimea Valley.
I also pointed to the amazing work that the HLTA Kaua‘i Chapter and the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association are doing in partnership with their respective County governments, business partners, and industry stakeholders in completing Tourism Strategic Plans that hone in on “next step solutions.” In fact I would like to see the implementation of similar initiatives on Oahu, Hawai‘i Island, and comprehensively for the state of Hawaii.
I closed out my speech on a congratulatory note, applauding HEA for their commendable work, and to all their members that were recognized for their accomplishments in keeping Hawai‘i a sustainable place to work, live, visit, and play.
7th Annual Ka 'Ikena Holiday Reception
HLTA’s Mufi Hannemann and Dean Nakasone with 2019 HLTA Chairperson Glenn Vergara (Waikiki Resort Hotel), KCC Culinary Department Director Grant Itomitsu, Dining Room Instructor John Santamaria, & the Ka ‘Ikena Reception Culinary and Serving Staff.
Last night was our 7th Annual Ka ‘Ikena Holiday Reception at Kap’iolani Community College. HLTA members and their guests gathered in the Ka ‘Ikena Dining Room to support the KCC Culinary Program. This is a signature event of HLTA’s Oahu Chapter and always proves to be an evening full of creative dishes and fellowship amongst members. This year’s menu highlighted a creamy mushroom risotto, braised lamb shanks, and seared salmon, just to name a few and a delicious holiday dessert spread.
KCC Chancellor Louise Pagotto and some of her key staff graced us with their presence. This reception not only gives our members, such as HLTA Chair Glenn Vergara, an opportunity to network, mix and mingle, but provides the culinary students the opportunity to showcase their talents to the leaders of our industry, while raising monies for a great cause.
HLTA is proud to support many scholarships, over a range of educational disciplines, and including Culinary Arts. This year’s KCC 2018 Culinary Arts Scholarship was awarded to Melanie Tancinco, who will continue her education at UH West Oahu, pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Culinary Management, beginning in 2019. Melanie aspires to become an Executive Chef, and is committed and passionate about her career. So much so, in fact, that she is part of the Culinary team at Halekulani, and was hard at work yesterday evening. I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Melanie on both receiving this scholarship, as well as earning her Associate’s Degree at KCC.
We look forward to seeing many of these talented culinary students like Melanie contributing to the success of our hotels and restaurants. Lastly, please keep in mind that Ka ‘Ikena is also an operational dining restaurant, which accepts reservations throughout the school year. If you need a new place to try, don’t miss these wonderful aspiring chefs and experience their talent for yourselves.
KCC - UH Foundation Dinner
Top Row: KC Collins (UH Foundation), Jutamas Buaklan (KCC student), Mufi Hannemann (HLTA), John Richards (KCC) Second Row: Jessica Caires, Jennifer Chun (HTA), Scholarship Recipient Deidre Lynne Monroy, Dean Nakasone (HLTA).
Last Thursday, Kapi’olani Community College & University of Hawai’i Foundation held their annual Scholarship Mahalo Dinner at KCC’s Ō‘hia dining hall. With the help of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association and other generous patrons, over $502,000 in scholarship funds were donated to Kap’iolani Community College this past year.
As you all know, HLTA is a staunch supporter of education and at this year’s Mahalo Dinner, we were pleased to spend time with our 2018 recipient of the HLTA Scholarship in Hospitality & Tourism, Deidre Lynne Monroy. Unfortunately, our 2019 recipient, Joan Dantzig, was ill and unable to attend. Both students are bright, motivated, and excited to continue their education.
Congratulations Deidre and Joan, and best wishes for your continued success!
FESTPAC 2020 Launch Party
A large part of promoting and protecting tourism in Hawaii is the role we play as stewards of our native Hawaiian culture: an aspect that makes us such a unique destination. This privilege and responsibility is bestowed upon the many cultural advisors, government and community leaders, kumu hula, kupuna, and visitor industry representatives in our state.
Throughout the Pacific, you will find a diverse range of countries and island nations who all endeavor to showcase their respective cultures. FESTPAC offers a platform in which these countries can come together to exchange traditional practices and to nurture new and existing friendships.
Often referred to as the Olympics of Culture and Arts in the Pacific, this travelling festival is convened only once every four years. In 2020, Hawaii has been given the honor of hosting this prestigious event, for the 13th Festival of the Pacific Arts: “E Kū i Ka Hoe Uli; a e Kohi i Ka Pale Kai.” 28 Pacific Island delegations will be in attendance June 10-20, 2020 to celebrate, demonstrate, perform and share their stories of their beautiful islands.
On November 20th, the Organizing Committee, led by Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine, will be hosting their official launch party at the Prince Waikiki, thanks to Prince Resorts Hawaii President Kisan Jo, who was impressed with Takamine’s presentation at our GMM and offered his support. I highly encourage you to also reach out to Vicky and her cohort, which includes her fellow Kumu Hula Michael Pili Pang, if you are interested in getting involved with this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
For more information, please contact Vicky directly at email@example.com.
General Election evening was a night filled with anticipation, excitement, and tears of joy. I was at my usual post: commentating on the election’s results with Mike Buck on AM690/FM 94.3, a tradition that we’ve maintained for many years now. Jared and I eventually made our way down to the west side of Oahu to visit a couple of our HLTA-endorsed candidates who are now newly-elected officials to the Hawai‘i State Legislature.
In the realm of endorsements, HLTA had a stellar year. Our organization successfully endorsed 42 candidates in the 2018 State General Elections, 36 of whom were victorious in their respective races.
Hats off and congratulations to Governor David Ige and his running mate Lieutenant Governor-elect Josh Green for their triumph last night, as well as to newly elected Maui Mayor-elect Mike Victorino and Kaua‘i Mayor-elect Derek Kawakami.
In the Hawai‘i State Senate all 6 of our endorsed candidates won: Sen. Kaialii Kahele (District 1), Councilmember Dru Kanuha (District 2), Sharon Moriwaki (District 12), Sen. Clarence Nishihara (District 17), Sen. Michelle Kidani (District 18), and Kurt Fevella (District 19). These individuals will be joined at the State Capitol by 13 of our 14 endorsed candidates in the State House: Rep. Christopher Todd (District 2), Rep. Richard Onishi (District 3), David Tarnas (District 7), Rep. Lynn DeCoite (District13), Rep. Gene Ward (District 17), Rep. Calvin Say (District 20), Rep. Tom Brower (District 22), Rep. Takashi Ohno (District 27), Rep. Romy Cachola (District 30), Val Okimoto (District36), Rep. Ryan Yamane (District37), Rep. Bob McDermott (District 40), and Rep. Cynthia Thielen (District 50).
In the Hawai‘i Island County Council, HLTA batted 100% in our endorsements as County Council candidate Rebecca Villegas (District 7) was victorious, joining the 5 endorsed candidates who won their seats in the Primary Elections.
On the Maui County Council front, HLTA candidates Alice Lee (Wailuku/Waihee/Waikapu), Councilmember Kelly King (South Maui), Mike Molina (Makawao/Haiku/Paia), Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura (Upcountry), and Councilmember Riki Hokama (Lanai) joined Mayor-elect Mike Victorino in a successful election.
Additionally, a big victory for the visitor industry came in the form of a County Charter Amendment. The Maui measure titled “Penalties” was approved in resounding fashion by Maui voters yesterday. The result of this charter amendment will greatly increase the penalties on the operation of illegal short-term vacation rentals in Maui County. The measure, which garnered 26,045 votes, will take the current $1,000 fine a person could be fined for operating an illegal TVR to up to $20,000, with a $10,000 fine for each day the illegal operation persists. This is a huge victory for our industry in our mission of creating parity with the transient vacation rental market. It truly underscores the theme that I have been advocating - this is not about the industry versus Airbnbs, but rather, the community against illegal TVRs.
On Kaua‘i, 6 of our 7 endorsed candidates will be joining mayoral winner Derek Kawakami in leading Kaua‘i’s County Government. Congratulations to incumbents Councilmember Mason Chock, Councilmember Arryl Kaneshiro, Councilmember Ross Kagawa, and Councilmember Arthur Brun, who will be joined by newcomers Luke Evslin and Felicia Cowden in serving on the Kaua‘i County Council.
Lastly, in the City & County of Honolulu, I would like to congratulate Council District 4 incumbent Councilmember Trevor Ozawa who won in a nail-biter against former State Representative Tommy Waters. After factoring in the last-minute absentee ballots, post third-printout, Trevor inched ahead of his opponent, clinching his re-election to the Honolulu City Council. Meanwhile Kelly Kitashima, who hails from the tourism industry, did well on her first attempt for public office by garnering 42% of the vote in Council District 8.
Although we do not endorse on the federal level, it is worth noting that former Outrigger executive, Ed Case, won his election to return to Congress. We know that given Ed’s active involvement and experience in our industry, he will be a strong voice for tourism in the nation’s capital.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ELECTION RESULTS.
HLTA’s involvement in the 2018 elections was unprecedented in our 71-year history, and I would like to take a moment to emphasize the important stance that we took, not only in conducting a comprehensive statewide endorsement process, but supporting candidates who will be leaders in our community and stout supporters of our visitor industry. Two such candidates came out of Mililani and Ewa Beach.
In Mililani, newcomer Val Okimoto won the District 36 seat over former State Representative Marilyn Lee by over 800 votes! In an interview on election night, she credited the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association for being the only organization that endorsed her in her inaugural campaign. Born on the island of Kaua‘i, the former special education teacher and highly active community leader is very familiar with the important role that tourism plays in our state’s economy.
In Ewa Beach, Kurt Fevella upset State Representative Matt Lopresti for the Senate District 19 seat which was vacated by former Senator Will Espero. Kurt, a janitor by trade, is a fixture in the Ewa Beach community, serving as the President of the Ewa Beach Lions Club, and spearheading events such as park cleanups, the Ewa Beach Christmas Parade, and college football star Tua Tagavailoa’s Homecoming Ewa Parade. HLTA was the first organization to endorse Kurt, who is now the only Republican Senator in the State of Hawai‘i - and the highest ranking official in the state’s GOP party. He is very cognizant of the hundreds of his constituents from Ewa who are hospitality employees and promises to be supportive of HLTA’s efforts to strengthen our tourism industry.
Hawaii News Now: After a two-year dry spell,
Hawaii once again has a lone Republican in the state Senate
Click on photo to view the story
As we close General Election 2018, I would like to applaud all the candidates throughout the state that endured the rigors of campaigning and offered our voters choices. I would also like to commend those who took the time to go out and vote, exercising your right and responsibility as an American citizen. Finally, I would like to send out our heartfelt congratulations to all the endorsed candidates of HLTA who will be taking office shortly. We send our mahalo for your support of Hawai‘i’s hospitality industry and we look forward to working with you!
Each year, through our Na Po’e Pa’ahana Awards, the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association honors the individuals who have contributed to the visitor industry through their stellar service, professionalism, and spirit of Aloha. These are the employees who continue to make Hawaii a premier destination. Our visitor industry relies on their dedication, and commitment to their workplace and community!
As a friendly reminder, nominations for the 29th Annual Na Po’e Pa’ahana Awards are officially due today at 11:59 pm. If you or your team members have not yet submitted your applications please do so HERE.
Na Po’e Pa’ahana nominees and finalists will be recognized at our annual luncheon on Thursday, January 10, 2019 at the Sheraton Waikiki.
General Election on November 6th – Go Out and Vote!
As of October 23rd registered voters have been able to visit early walk-in voting locations within their respective counties to cast their ballots for the General Election. Early voting will close tomorrow – Saturday, November 3rd as our state prepares for Election Day on November 6th. This is a wonderful opportunity to ensure that you as a voter take advantage of your right and responsibility to vote. For those of you who have been following HLTA’s road to the Elections, I would like to take a moment to remind you of who our visitor industry endorsed candidates are:
For those who reside on Maui, I would like to encourage you to pay close attention to the charter amendments that will show up on your ballot. One amendment in particular will increase the penalty for operating an illegal transient vacation rental from $1,000 to $20,000, I urge you to vote yes. This will greatly aid the Maui County Planning Department in their enforcement of illegal transient vacation rentals.
As we near the 2018 General Elections, I implore you to help us change the stigma that Hawai‘i residents simply don’t vote. This is your chance to elect those to office who will champion your community, your business, and your way of life.
Waipahu High School: Aiming to be the first nationally accreditedCulinary and Tourism academy in the State.
For many years I have been a big supporter of Waipahu High School principal, Keith Hayashi, who has been a leader in the realm of education in the State of Hawai’i. Over the years, Keith and his team have successfully shaped Waipahu High School into a model educational institution. They offer “academic pathways” to all freshmen that enroll giving them the opportunity to explore, in-depth, career driven academies, two of which have received the highest honors of national accreditation. Keith and his team at Waipahu High School, the pioneers of early college programming in Hawai‘i, have been working closely with HLTA to establish the state’s first nationally accredited Culinary and Tourism Academy by 2020.
In pursuit of this goal I convened a meeting this week between industry stakeholders and key faculty members of Waipahu High School. In attendance from the industry were HLTA Chairperson Glenn Vergara from the Waikiki Resort Hotel, Gary Manago from the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel, Dylan Ching and Kelii Gouveia from Duke’s Restaurants, and Waipahu alumnus Rick Egged from the Waikiki Improvement Association. During the meeting we discussed the opportunity to improve upon the transition of students into the workforce by pairing businesses that offer high school internships with the academy. Additionally, we also explored the idea of inciting interest with our hotels and restaurants to offer externships for teachers and faculty members. As we progress forward with creating this nationally recognized academy, we will convene a follow-up meeting by years end to engage our Ko Olina and Kapolei lodging members as well as they share a close proximity to the high school. The goal will be to create standards and expectations between both our members and Waipahu high school in this new collaboration. If you or your company is interested in participating with this new initiative please feel free to contact the HLTA office at (808) 923-0407 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Tourism 101: Waikiki – past, present, and future
This past Wednesday, Rick Egged President of the Waikiki Improvement Association, joined me for our third episode of Tourism 101. For those of you who may not be familiar with our new show Tourism 101, it is a 30-minute segment produced by ThinkTech Hawai‘i and hosted by yours truly, which showcases topics and speakers directly related to Hawai‘i’s visitor industry. This week Rick and I talked about the many initiatives and activities that both our organizations collaborate on in Waikiki.
To view the full episode click HERE.
A Visit from Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows
Each year the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program brings a contingent of Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows to spend 5- weeks in Honolulu with the goal of building relationships between industry leaders across the Pacific. This week, three members of the current class sought a meeting with me to discuss the role of the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association and to learn more about Hawai‘i’s hospitality industry. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hosting Iulai Lesa, Senior Sales and Marketing Officer for the Samoa Tourism Authority, Sheena Ng Lam, Principal Training & Education Officer for the Samoa Tourism Authority, and Christine Peipul, Executive Manager of the Papua New Guinea Tourism Industry Association, at our office. During our meeting I shared insights on what makes our industry tick and how they can utilize similar tools in their own respective countries. Later today, I will be meeting with the entire Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows group to further expand on these points of discussion.
Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Relief Drive
Last week, the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, primarily Saipan and Tinian, was devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu. With maximum sustained winds of 180 mph, this super typhoon had the equivalent power to that of a Category 5 Hurricane, making it the strongest storm to hit any part of the U.S. this year. The result: the islands were pummeled affecting over 50,000 people who were first hand witnesses to the storm's destruction. Yesterday, I put out a call to action to the HLTA membership on Oahu, in support of the Northern Marianas Club of Hawaii. They are collecting goods and supplies to send to our brothers and sisters in the Northern Marianas. The Aloha 4 CNMI Operation Yutu Relief Campaign will be holding a donation drive at the Safeway grocery store located at 1360 Pali Hwy in Honolulu from November 16 -18. For full details please refer to the email blast that was sent HERE.
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