I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. There were plenty of events happening across the state in honor of our veterans, including the lantern floating ceremony at Ala Moana Beach Park, the 2017 Vietnam 50 Years Memorial parade in Waikiki, and the state and city Memorial Day ceremony at Punchbowl. Bottom line is that we cannot say mahalo enough to the million plus service men and women who lost their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom and liberties that we enjoy today as Americans, as well as express our on-going gratitude and appreciation to our active military personnel and their families who protect and defend us every day throughout the face of the earth!
On Friday, a different kind of tribute took place in honor of the legendary Hawaiian musician Gabby “Pops” Pahinui. As many know, Pahinui paved the way for the Hawaiian slack-key guitar and penned a slew of hits that are now Hawaiian classics, such as Hi’ilawe, Lei Nani, and Mauna Loa. Though his music will already carry him through generations, a 7-foot statue that has now been added to a collection of Hawaiian music legends in Waikiki Beach Walk will allow all to remember him forever. The tribute included live kanikapila music with various Hawaiian artists and a reflection of Pahinui’s life through talk-story videos and audio stories. Congratulations to Outrigger's Barbara Campbell for leading the charge to bring this fitting tribute of "Pops" to Waikiki.
If you were at the beach this weekend, you may have noticed the shores were covered in water due to the King Tides. This year, the tides are much higher than usual due to a combination of high lunar tides, rising sea levels related to climate change and last year’s El Niño, ocean eddies, and a strong south swell. Reports showed that some areas experienced tides as high as 3.1 feet on Friday evening. Kudos to all the hotels and businesses that heeded warnings and prepared for the coastal flooding.
While King Tides routinely return to Hawaii a few times a year, this year broke records and is expected to become the new normal as time goes on. Thus, it is imperative that our industry remains proactive on this issue. The next king tides in Hawaii are expected around June 23-24 and July 21-22. HLTA plans to hold an educational symposium on this topic to continue the discussion on elevated water levels and reevaluating policies and practices in preparation for the future.
Finally the City and County of Honolulu is finalizing their budget for the fiscal year. As we are well aware, the mayor had asked the City Council to go along with him to raise the real property tax rate for the hotel and resort classification. Resolution 17-70, in part, sought to increase the real property tax rate for hotels and resorts by a margin of 50 cents per $1,000, a raise that took place a mere 3 years ago.
After much discussion and consideration the Budget Committee went with the recommendation of its Chair Joey Monahan to hold off on the proposed tax increase this year on a 4-0 vote. I have mentioned it several times and will continue to emphasize the point that this is truly a big victory for the visitor industry, and it would not have been possible without the support and testimonies from HLTA’s members. In fact, members of the City Council have said that this is the most they have ever heard from individuals, organizations, and properties of HLTA.
With that being said, "it ain't over till it's over," as the newly amended CD2 heads to the full 9 member council for a floor vote on Wednesday, June 7th. We cannot relax and afford to be complacent. It is vital that we maintain our strong voice at this final reading and express our support for the Budget Committee's decision to reject the City administration's proposal for a tax increase. We urge you to submit testimony to the full council by June 6th. Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or Jared Higashi at (808) 923-0407.
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