The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association (HLTA), through its non-profit arm the Hawai‘i Hotel Industry Foundation (HHIF), distributed funds to 128 charities on O‘ahu at its annual post-Visitor Industry Charity Walk presentation ceremony at the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Room. The funds were raised in May of this year through the 39th annual Charity Walk, in which 6,500 walkers enjoyed food, refreshments, and entertainment along a 5.25-mile route through Waikiki.
Charity Walk funds are distributed based on the deliberations and vetting of a committee consisting of members from the hospitality industry. Charities that fundraised monies were first awarded that money back and received extra funding through their grant application. Remaining funds were awarded based on the organization’s scope of work and by their level of participation with the event through walkers and volunteers.
“The Charity Walk allocation ceremony really is the culmination of all the hard work and generosity put forth by the visitor industry. The good these charities do for our communities is why we continue this tradition of giving, and it’s so great to see that many of them are getting more involved with our Charity Walk year after year,” said Mufi Hannemann, HLTA President & CEO.
Among the grant recipients were long-time beneficiaries such as Make-a-Wish Foundation, the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, VASH and Special Olympics Hawaii. However, it was the year of the newcomers as the top fundraisers of the walk, from the charity organizations group, were first-time participants Youth for Christ USA, Hui O Momilani PTSO, and second year participant Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP).
Youth for Christ USA has run their Campus Life Clubs program for 70 years helping troubled youth in public high schools across the island. They will be expanding their outreach in the community by establishing clubs in 5 new high schools and building on the 16 schools they are currently in. The HCAP youth services program aims at breaking the cycle of poverty by motivating Hawaii’s underprivileged youth through innovative educational and leadership initiatives. The Hui O Momilani PTSO put their best foot forward this year to help raise funds for the Drama Program at Momilani Elementary School. The Drama program encourages student growth in public speaking and performance through themes relating to community engagement and character development.
The 39th annual Charity Walk raised $2.27 million for 363 charities statewide. This year’s total once again topped last year’s records for both the number of charities helped and monies raised. Since its inception, the Charity Walk has raised over $32 million. All of the money raised on each island stays on that island to benefit local charitable groups.
Mahalo for attending HYPE's United Laundry Services Tour!
HYPE took to Sand Island on Wednesday, September 13 as we went on a tour of United Laundry Services (ULS). The team at ULS guided the HYPE attendees through each of the processes involved in their everyday operations. From laundry and linen intake, to “treasure hunting” for lost items, to the washing, drying, ironing and folding of the linen and finally to the shipment and cost formulas per load, the team at ULS took us on a journey through the world of laundry. To finish the evening off the team at United Laundry Services invited the team for a pau hana experience at Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38 where the HYPE group had a chance to mix and mingle with one another.
HYPE would like to send a special Mahalo to Ms. Vicky Cayetano, President & CEO of United Laundry Services, and her team for hosting us at their company and for sponsoring the transportation and pau hana! We thank all the attendees that joined us for yesterday’s tour and we hope to see you at the next one!
Scholarship Presentation and Kauai Charity Walk Allocation
Last Thursday, HLTA attended the Kauai Chapter’s Charity Walk Grant Presentation Ceremony at the Kauai Marriott Resort, where $277,000 was distributed among 60 non-profit organizations. During the program, I took the opportunity to present the R.W. “Bob” Holden scholarship of $1,000 to Faith Rapozo, a junior at Kauai Community College majoring in Hospitality & Tourism. Faith has a passion for customer service and aspires to be a hotel manager or a tourism business owner. She also has an incredible story in which she has had to overcome many hardships to get to where she is today. I certainly hope she continues her path and fulfills her goal of one day becoming one of Kauai's leading hotel executives.
The R.W. Bob Holden Scholarship is a tribute to the continuing leadership in the hotel industry and dedication to education of those entering the hospitality profession. “Bob” Holden was the founder of the Visitor Industry Education Council of Hawaii in 1973, a group formed to take the story of Hawaii’s visitor industry and its importance to the citizens and general public of Hawaii. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the University of Hawaii TIM School, former director of the Waikiki Improvement Association and he is considered the “Father” of the Hawai’i Lodging & Tourism Association’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk.
New Member Incentive Drawing
In addition to the scholarship and Charity Walk grant presentations that took place that morning, we held a drawing for a new member incentive we ran after the Hospitality, Lodging, and Foodservice Expo this July. All new members who joined within a certain time frame were entered in a drawing for roundtrip tickets to any island on Hawaiian Airlines and a two-night stay at The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, compliments of Ken Kanter from Douglas Trade Shows and Denise Wardlow, GM of the Westin Princeville. I recognized Denise that morning for her generous gift, and her Director of Operations Marc Bennor joined me on stage to pull the lucky member’s name. Ironically, out of all the allied members who joined during that time frame were up for the prize, the only new active member who joined during that time frame, Embassy Suites by Hilton Kapolei, was the lucky winner. Congratulations to Reid Yoshida, the property’s GM.
Almost one year ago we launched the first ever HLTA Generational Mentoring program in partnership with Art Sarkissian, founder of Here and Now Consulting. The program paired 12 hotel and resort general managers with students from our local universities’ tourism industry management programs. The result of the 7 month program develops a mutually beneficial relationship between the executives of today’s hospitality industry and the up and coming leaders of tomorrow, an experience that both parties gain valuable insights from.
As we near the end of 2017 we will be launching our second iteration of the Generational Mentoring program geared at partnering 15 university students with 15 general managers and visitor industry executives. This year we have confirmed the participation of 6 new executives to the GM program: Scott Ingwers, Area VP & Managing Director of the Trump International Hotel Waikiki; Teri Orton, General Manager of the Hawai‘i Convention Center; Simeon Miranda, General Manager of the Embassy Suites Hotel - Waikiki Beach Walk; Gerald Glennon, General Manager of the Kahala Hotel & Resort; Jim Braman, General Manager of the Cliffs at Princeville; and Danna Holck, General Manager at Turtle Bay Resort. We are very excited to once again partner with Art Sarkissian to launch our second year of this very worthwhile initiative that helps pave the way for the next generation of industry professionals.
HLTA presents $35k to two Hawaii Island Homeless Agencies:
Last Thursday, the HLTA office and a handful of board members attended the Hawaii Island Chapter’s Charity Walk Grant Allocation Ceremony at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa after attending a board meeting on the island. During the reception, HLTA presented a total of $35,000 to two Hawaii Island non-profit agencies focused on servicing homelessness, in partnership with the Institute for Human Services (IHS) and the County of Hawaii.
Through funds from the Hawaii For Hawaii concert, IHS matched $10,000 with HLTA, and together we presented a total $20,000 to HOPE Services Hawaii Inc. to help fund their emergency shelters. HLTA also presented $15,000 to support the Hawai'i Rise Foundation for a certified kitchen at Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini, also known as Ulu Wini, a low-income Housing Project built by the County of Hawaii in 2011 in Kona. Joining me to make the presentations at Waikoloa were HLTA Chair Scott Ingwers, HLTA Hawaii Island Chapter Chair Steve Yannarell, and from the County government, Managing Director Wil Okabe, Council Chair Val Pointdexter, and County Prosecutor Mitch Roth.
If you were at last year’s General Membership Meeting, you may remember when HLTA made a $25,000 contribution to a non-profit group called Kauai Economic Opportunity in consultation with Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho at the GMM welcome reception. The year before that, HLTA in collaboration with Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and the Institute for Human Services (IHS) donated $25,000 to a group called the Maui Family Life Center. This year we had similar discussions with Hawaii Island Mayor Harry Kim’s office and the Institute for Human Services, who both helped us identify these two well-deserved agencies on Hawaii Island.
These Neighbor Island Homelessness initiatives are all part of HLTA's conscious efforts to reflect the fact that we are a statewide organization and given the magnitude of the homeless problem, HLTA wants to help all our Island chapters whenever we can.
Charity Walk Allocations:
Congratulations to the Hawaii Island Chapter for distributing nearly $276,000 among 60 non-profit organizations at their allocation ceremony last Thursday, and to the Maui Chapter for distributing over $1,129,000 to 115 charities on Maui, Lanai, and Molokai on August 10. This week, Kauai will hold their allocation ceremony at the Kauai Marriott on September 7, and Oahu’s reception will take place on September 22.
Special Session Recap:
As many of you know the legislative special session came to a close last week Friday as the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives convened their third reading on measure SB4; the bill to decide the funding mechanism for the Honolulu rail system. This came on the heels of a much closer vote than anticipated before the joint committees of Finance and Transportation (8-6 vote in Finance and a 4-2 vote in Transportation). As you may recall before the same Bill went to the Senate floor for a final vote of 16-9, it barely made it out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee by a 6-5 vote. The final vote in the House was 31 to 15 with 5 members excused from the day’s proceedings. Bill SB4 was returned to the Senate un-amended and was sent to the Governor directly where he signed it into law yesterday.
SB4 snapshot: In order to fund the Honolulu rail project SB4 extends the current Honolulu GET Tax Use Surcharge for three additional years to 2030 and increases the transient accommodations tax by 1%, taking the new TAT rate to 10.25%, for years beginning January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2030. The additional 1% statewide TAT increase will be earmarked specifically to the mass transit special fund which will be administered by the department of budget and finance. Provisions also included in the measure involve an audit of HART, the addition of two non-voting members to the HART Board appointed by the Senate President and Speaker of the House, and making permanent the $103 million allocated to the counties from the collection of the TAT.
At the end of the day the votes may not have aligned the way we wanted as we worked tirelessly to keep the transient accommodations tax out of the equation. However, this is the first time ever that the visitor industry has been able to rally statewide as a single voice the way we did these past couple of months. Many legislators, government leaders, and business and labor organizations took note and have commented on the visitor industry’s engagement and visibility this legislative special session. We have also added some new partners who agree with our views of the danger of tapping into the TAT as a funding source for all things. I would like to send a special mahalo to all those that have contributed to the 1,850 industry signatures we have collected, to the individuals who testified at the public hearings, to the organizations who wrote letters and testimonies to the legislators, and to those who not only got involved but also encouraged their team to do so as well. We sent a reminder to our government leaders that we are the number one economic driver in the state and we are backed by large numbers.
Therefore, I would like to use this experience as a foundation to further enhance our advocacy efforts as an association and as an industry. This was just one major debate at the big square building directly impacting our industry. Government and politics are in perpetual motion and so we must stay vigilant as we are constantly facing measures that can either harm or benefit us. Over the next several months we will be working diligently at engaging the industry through our government affairs process and strengthening our voice across the state. The next legislative session begins on January 17, 2018 followed by elections in the fall where the plan is for our association and the hospitality industry to be actively engaged. It will be a busy year and I look forward to working with you to build upon the momentum that we have started. Stay tuned for more details of our government affairs agenda in the weeks ahead.
Congratulations to Cheryl Williams, general manager of The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Resort Collection, and Michael Wilding, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Alana – Waikiki Beach for being selected as this year’s HLTA Aloha United Way Fall Campaign co-chairs. The AUW Fall campaign brings various sectors of our community together to help raise funds for Hawaii’s non-profit organizations. Last year, Kelly Hoen and Teri Orton spearheaded the efforts among the lodging and tourism industry in Waikiki, bringing over $300,000. With Williams and Wilding at the helm this year, I’m positive we will continue to make a substantial difference in our local community. To join the movement, you can visit www.auw.org.
As a reminder, the nomination period for the aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards ends this Thursday, August 31, 2017. To all our members statewide, we encourage you to submit a nomination for this new awards program. The finalists will be honored at an awards gala on November 16 at the Hawaii Convention Center, and while the selection committee will determine the awardees, we would love to see a stage full of HLTA members that evening. With 16 award categories, the awards program recognizes various facets of our industry, from accommodations and restaurants, to events, individuals, tourism destinations, and more. Visit www.hawaiimagazine.com/hlta to view the full list of award categories and submit nominations.
As an update to the special session, the Senate Ways and Means committee launched the legislative special session with a public hearing on measure SB4, the bill determining the funding mechanism for Honolulu’s rail system on Monday afternoon by calling for the TAT to be increased by 1% for 13 years to help pay for the rail system.
After 5 hours of testimonies and deliberations, the Ways and Means committee ended the evening with a narrow 6-5 vote to pass the measure un-amended with Senators Kahele, Harimoto, Inouye, English and Riviere voting against the TAT funding for rail.
I’ve stressed the importance of our testimonies and presence at the hearings as they are necessary if we are to continue our push for no TAT increases. I am pleased to report that we have had an impressive turn out from our membership and our testimonies were very strong. Many Capitol observers remarked that they have never seen the hospitality industry turn out in such big numbers. And thanks to many of our members efforts, we submitted the names of nearly 2,000 of our hard-working associates.
I would like to thank the HLTA members who took time out of their busy day to come to the Capitol auditorium to join me in testifying at the public hearing on Monday. They were Scott Ingwers, Gregg Nelson, Ed Case, Kelly Hoen, Barbara Campbell, Rick Egged, Simeon Miranda, Charles Young, Dean Nakasone, Robin Graf, Lisa Paulson, Maui Council Chair Mike White, and Stephanie Donaho of the Kohala Coast Resort Association. Mahalo to David Wong and Max Sword as well for attending. Special recognition to Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and Hawai‘i Island Mayor Harry Kim who in their testimony opposed the use of the TAT and Hawai'i Island Council Chair Valerie Poindexter who lent support by her presence.
I would also like to acknowledge the Waikiki Resort Hotel, Aqua-Aston Hospitality, The Imperial Hawaii Resort, and Castle Hotels and Resorts for taking the time to submit written testimony.
SB4 will head to the Senate floor for a final third reading vote today. If passed by a majority vote in the Senate chamber, the measure will cross over to the House of Representatives for its deliberations.
The House Finance and Transportation committees have scheduled a joint committee hearing for today, August 30, 2017 at 1:30 pm in the Capitol Auditorium. Again, I ask all of you that can to send in testimonies here to the hearing and if you or your associates can attend to testify in person to please do so. Please click here for the Finance/Transportation Hearing Notice.
HYPE had a great time Thursday night at the new Lucky Strike Social bowling, arcade gaming, and live music lounge. Over 60 members enjoyed the evening mixing and mingling over food, drinks, and bowling. Attendees also received a complimentary $10 Power Card for the venue's arcade gaming section, and many kept the evening rolling with games after the function. Mahalo to Lucky Strike Social for an awesome night, and mahalo to our sponsors ABC Stores, Bite Squad, and Kynbo for supporting the event!
This Thursday, August 24, HLTA’s Hospitality IT Council will celebrate its official launch at the newly renovated Prince Waikiki from 5-7pm. The council will provide a means of career development for technology professionals through collaboration and education, by promoting best practices, and by enhancing professionalism and personal success for its members. Please encourage your Information Officers, Directors, Managers, or individuals who work in a technology department of your organization to join us by registering here. Mahalo to General Manager Charles Abbott for graciously hosting the launch!
Also on Thursday, HLTA’s HYPE committee will be holding a Membership Drive and Mixer at the new Lucky Strike Social bowling alley and arcade gaming lounge. This sold-out event will provide a fun way for the young professionals committee to bond with each other and make new contacts while checking out the brand-new venue. Mahalo to the event sponsors, ABC Stores, Bite Squad, and Kynbo Inc.
Finally, on the legislative front, I would like to send my mahalo to all those that heeded the call of action and sent in letters to the Governor and legislators opposing the increase of the Transient Accommodations Tax to pay for the Honolulu Rail Project. I especially commend all those that went the extra mile and collected signatures from their associates to strengthen their statement. These grassroots initiatives are important as they should have an impact on the elected officials involved with the special session.
As an update yesterday, I led a delegation of 10 HLTA members to visit with the Governor where we discussed our industry’s position on the upcoming special session. Thanks to your hard work we were able to hand the Governor our updated position letter accompanied by 1,000 signatures in support of our industry’s stance! That same letter was also sent to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and to all Legislative members. We also sent supportive testimonies to the Honolulu City Council and Kauai County Council for their support of the GET extension to fund rail.
During this meeting, we expressed our concerns in raising the Transient Accommodations Tax to cover the expense of the Honolulu Rail System, and we reinforced the idea that extending the General Excise Tax is the fairest and most equitable option. In response to our points the Governor did share our concerns with the volatility of the Transient Accommodations Tax in comparison to the GET. Yet, it is important that we not let up and continue our efforts in driving our point home. It is going to be a continuous uphill battle. I want to urge all those that haven’t reached out to your associates to garner their signatures to please do so. I ask that you keep us in the loop and send your correspondence to Jared Higashi of my staff at email@example.com. We will be updating the executive and legislative branches throughout the week as more signatures come in and once again mahalo to all of you who have heeded the call to action.
On Monday, the Legislature convened a public hearing at the Hawai‘i State Capitol Auditorium with key government entities and the general public on state funding for the City & County of Honolulu’s rail project.
The hearing was led by the respective chairs of the Senate Committees on Ways and Means, Transportation and Energy, and Public Safety, Intergovernmental & Military Affairs alongside their counterparts in the House Committees on Finance, and Transportation. What turned out to be a seven-hour briefing served as a prolong discussion between the State Legislature, the City & County of Honolulu, the County Councils, and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. The lengthy discussions between these bodies of government and HART not only set the groundwork for the real question at hand, which is how will we be funding Honolulu’s rail system.
Prior to the public hearing, five options were presented by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means covering the potential funding mechanisms necessary to finance the Honolulu Rail system. These proposals included a mix of extending and raising the general excise tax, adding an increase to the transient accommodations tax, and discussions on whether funding for this project should come just from Oahu or statewide.
In response to the potential inclusion of the transient accommodations tax to the funding formula, over 50 hospitality leaders and associates from the HLTA membership made their way down to the capitol to share our concerns during the briefing. I would like to send my mahalo to all those who came out to rally for the industry on Monday, to those who sent in testimony for the hearing, and to the 142 individuals that signed on to HLTA’s letter opposing a raise to the TAT, which I presented to the executive branch and key political leaders. Also kudos to Rick Egged, Ed Case, and Mike White who joined me in offering public testimony. We will continue to stay vigilant as we near the tentative special session date of August 28th. We appreciate the engagement of those that have participated in the process thus far and we will continue to seek your support for this very important issue.
In other HLTA news, over the weekend, tourists and locals in the International Market Place got a glimpse of Hawaii’s Golden Days as a statue of music legend Don Ho was unveiled in the very place he used to reign supreme with his nightly entertainment at the popular Duke Kahanamoku's night club. To celebrate the statue, a blessing ceremony with speakers and performances by the Ho family and Kimo Kahoano took place in the early afternoon, followed by special entertainment by Hawaiian music all-stars, Melveen Leed, Marleen Sai, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Kimo Kahoano, Nathan Aweau, Henry Kapono, and more. During the entertainment portion, my staff and I presented in conjunction with the Pauahi Foundation, the first-ever Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association Don Ho Legacy Scholarship to this year’s inaugural recipient Daylan-Blake Kala‘i, who will be attending New York University to pursue performing arts this Fall. Joining us on stage to make the presentation was Haumea Ho, Uncle Don's widow. We were following through on a commitment we had made to Haumea and son Dwight when we presented Don Ho, posthumously with the Na Poe Paahana Legacy Award in 2016 that we would establish such a scholarship in his honor. I also commended Jack and Cha Thompson of Tihati Productions for raising funds years ago to enable HLTA to recognize the arts and music in this fashion. Congratulations to Michael Fenley, the GM of International Market Place and his staff for a job well done.
On Monday, several members of HLTA attended a presentation by Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy for Americans for the Arts, who shared compelling research from the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) report. This national study, conducted by Americans for the Arts and implemented in Hawaii by the Hawaii Arts Alliance, details the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in the State of Hawaii. The AEP5 report showed that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $205.6 million industry in the State of Hawai‘i, and supports 5,968 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $23.2 million in local and state government revenue. Nationally, a U.S. Department of Commerce study found that the arts is a $730 billion industry- 4.2% of the GDP. This shows that the arts not only enhance our quality of life, but is also a viable economic driver in our communities that intersect with many industries, including tourism. To read the report, visit the Hawaii Arts Alliance website: http://www.hawaiiartsalliance.org/aep5. For more information about Americans for the Arts and the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, visit http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/arts-economic-prosperity-5
Finally, mahalo to all our sponsors, volunteers, and golfers who attended HLTA’s 18th annual Scholarship Golf Tournament last week Thursday at the Hawaii Prince Golf Course. Together we raised over $55,000 to support HLTA scholarships and educational programs! I’d also like to give a shout out to emcees Kimo Kahoano and Senator Brickwood Galuteria who did a great job announcing our prize winners and conducting a live auction that evening to continue with the day’s festivities.
My staff and I with our inaugural Don Ho Legacy Scholarship recipient Daylan-Blake Kala'i and Haumea Ho at the Interational Market Place.
We hope to see you this Thursday, August 10 for our annual Scholarship Golf Tournament at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club in Ewa. Our golf committee and staff have been working hard to ensure a fantastic time. Mahalo to all our wonderful sponsors who are providing fun, food, drinks, and prizes throughout the day, and to all our teams who are contributing greatly to our scholarship fund. In addition to a slew of door prizes, there will be two great live-auction items for you to bid on: a trip on Hawaiian Air to New Zealand with a stay at the beautiful The Spencer on Byron Hotel and a trip to San Diego on Alaska Airlines with accommodations at the fabulous Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
As you know, the Scholarship Golf Tournament supports the many grants we give to aspiring young students, many of whom aspire to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. This year we have supported over ten students in their educational pursuits, in addition to the 42 students we provide scholarships for at our annual Citizen-Scholar Awards.
This Sunday, August 13, 2017, the International Market Place will be unveiling a statue in tribute to Don Ho at the Banyan court near Kalakaua Avenue. The ceremony will begin at 1:30p.m. with a blessing ceremony, speakers, and performances by the Ho family and Kimo Kahoano. Later that evening, there will be special entertainment by Hawaiian music all-stars, Melveen Leed, Marleen Sai, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Kimo Kahoano, Henry Kapono, and more. HLTA will also be presenting our Don Ho Legacy Scholarship to this year’s inaugural recipient Daylan-Blake Kalai, who will be attending New York University this Fall. If you are in the area, please join us to recognize this Hilo native and recent graduate from Kamehameha Schools on the Big Island, where he was greatly involved in the performing arts program. Last year, Kalai starred in the Hawaiian language opera Ha‘upu, which took him and his classmates to Edinburgh, Scotland to perform in the world’s largest performing arts festival.
On the legislative front, we are actively addressing our industry’s concerns with funding the Rail project through any increase of the transient accommodations tax. On Monday, August 14, there will be a public informational briefing at 10 a.m. in the State Capitol auditorium. We encourage all our members to attend this briefing and oppose increases to the TAT. Key committee chairs and members from both the House of Representatives and the State Senate will be in attendance to hear from the public as they work on an agreement on rail funding. Please submit testimony via email to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy at TRETestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov. Testimony may be submitted up to 24 hours prior to the start of the informational briefing. Please feel free to use our attached HLTA letter as a guide for your testimony and we ask that you also include your own specific examples on how increasing the TAT will be harmful to your business and the industry. This will make your testimony much more personal and unique. It is going to take a herculean effort from us all if we are going to persuade the legislature to eliminate the TAT as a potential funding source. It is critical that we have a strong showing. Unlike a legislative session that lasts 4 months, we’re talking about a special session that is 5 days in length and an informational briefing. Please do everything, if you’re in town, to rearrange your schedule to be there. Once again please feel free to contact Jared Higashi or anyone of us at HLTA if you have any questions.
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