Last week Friday, the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association convened a government affairs meeting with members from the HLTA Board of Directors, Government Affairs Committee, and industry stakeholders in attendance. The meeting covered two very important issues on HLTA’s government affairs agenda: the Airport Corporation and transient vacation rentals and also touched on our upcoming plans to deal with the increasing level of crimes against tourists. What was originally a small working group focused on the issue of transient vacation rentals has now evolved into a larger group of industry stakeholders collaborating and sharing insights on the issues at hand.
Regarding the Airport Corporation bill, this measure has been a top priority of HLTA for the past two years and it will be carried over once again into the upcoming session in January. During the legislative interim, the Airlines Committee of Hawai‘i has continue to work on addressing previous concerns raised by the Attorney General’s office as well as the unions. We will continue to advocate for the passage of this bill with the goal of passing it out early in the legislative session thereby proving that the third time is indeed the charm. On a similar note, the outgoing Director of Transportation, Ford Fuchigami, recently briefed our members on the Airport Corporation and had DOT deputy director, Ross Higashi, give us a tour of the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. We can expect Fuchigami will continue to strongly back the proposal in his new responsibilities in the governor’s office, which is good news for us!
The transient vacation rental issue has been top of mind for a few years now as it is a major priority for HLTA and the visitor industry as a whole. Through the discussions that ensued on Friday we were able to share insights with one another on the latest on the draft memorandum of agreement between Airbnb and the State's Tax Department, bring everyone up-to-date on the issue of enforcement and permitting on the county fronts, discuss the Airbnb legislation that was recently passed in San Francisco, and strategize a unified approach for the next legislative session. In related news the City has established a working group to address the issue from the City & County of Honolulu's perspective in which HLTA has submitted officials to represent the visitor industry. This group will convene its work next week. Likewise, we will continue to hold our government affairs meetings on a regular basis and encourage your participation and involvement.
To reinforce our efforts, let me allude to the panel discussions at our General Membership Meeting held last month at the Turtle Bay Resort, where past and present government leaders emphasized the importance of leadership and collaboration in our advocacy efforts. It was stated that if we do not stand with a unified front and strong voice in the democratic process, then it will be extremely difficult to withstand or overcome the “assaults” and "threats " to the viability of the hospitality industry. That being said, HLTA will continue to ramp up our advocacy efforts at all levels of government, especially with the election year coming up in 2018.
Future of Existing Buildings:
Last Thursday I moderated a panel discussion for The Future of Existing Buildings event hosted by Chelsea Group, a building science consulting firm for commercial and institutional real estate. The whole session was done in collaboration with our Engineering Council. This was my second consecutive year moderating this event and I have to say I am continuously impressed by the passion and depth of knowledge from both the speakers and the audience. The panel featured a notable array of industry experts Dave Lee, Director of System Facilities and Biomedical Engineering at The Queen’s Medical Center; Josh Stanbro, Director of Sustainability at the City and County of Honolulu, and Jim Kelly, Vice President for Corporate Communications at Hawaiian Electric Company.
The panelists covered in-depth topics, such as the future challenges to our existing power infrastructure, finding reasonable solutions to mitigate sea water flooding and related problems in our most vulnerable buildings, and the necessary steps to take to ensure we can keep up with the vision of a sustainable Honolulu. It was also an opportunity to underscore the priority that the hospitality industry places on being green and sustainable. The topic of resiliency planning and investing was very pertinent in the day’s discussions. Particularly when it came to the discussion of changing the mindset of decision makers so that they be proactive and invest in upgrading their infrastructure before it causes problems. When I was Mayor I quickly learned that the question was not " if” but “when” when it comes to another natural disaster hitting our shores again. It is vitally important to always take a good hard look at our infrastructure and plan wisely so that we'll be prepared to take the necessary steps to deal with calamities and challenges whenever they may occur.
Island Air Job Fair:
In light of the unfortunate circumstances with Island Air, HLTA will be supporting a job fair on Thursday, November 30, 2017 from 10am – 4pm at the DKI Airport meeting rooms. When these situations occur it's important that we help our family, friends and neighbors get through these difficult times. We are strongly encouraging our member lodging properties and interested allied businesses to participate and support Island Air’s former employees. If you have questions on how your hotel/organization can participate, please contact Dean Nakasone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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