HLTA held its 2nd Annual Tourism Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. The event drew a crowd of over 300 people to the 4th floor foyer for a Tourism Expo, which featured exhibits by HLTA, hotels and other tourism businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. This year the public was treated to goodies such as Two Ladies Kitchen Mochi from Hilo, Koloa Rum Muffins, Hilton DoubleTree Cookies, and more. They were also able to enjoy activities including lei making, prize drawings, and a 3D virtual reality tour of Kauai Coffee Company.
The day kicked off with an educational session presented by HLTA President and CEO Mufi Hannemann and his staff. Also offering remarks and in attendance were Senate President Ron Kouchi, Tourism Chairs Senator Glenn Wakai and Representative Richard Onishi, former Speaker Calvin Say, Representative James Tokioka, and State Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami. The session outlined HLTA's mission of education, advocacy and philanthropy, highlighted the importance of the hospitality industry to Hawaii, summarized HLTA’s legislative priorities, and expanded on the synergistic relationship that tourism has with other sectors of our economy, including agriculture and STEM. This year, HLTA's priority issues include appropriating $2M to help ease homelessness in tourism impacted areas across the state, collecting room and general excise taxes from online transient vacation rentals to level the playing field, as well as developing an independent corporation to oversee the state's airport division.
After the educational session, HLTA members and legislators were given the opportunity to meet and mingle over a delicious buffet lunch by Tiki's Bar & Grill with HLTA board members, general managers and business leaders. Several dozen lawmakers attended this portion, including House Speaker Joe Souki, Vice-Speaker John Mizuno, Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, Transportation Chair Henry Aquino, Judiciary Chair Scott Nishimoto, Economic Development and Business Chair Mark Nakashima and Minority Leader Andria Tupola and from the Senate, Vice-President Michelle Kidani, Consumer Protection Chair Roz Baker, Transportation and Energy Chair Lorraine Inouye, Higher Education Chair Kai Kahele, Judiciary and Labor Chair Gil Agaron, Senate Majority Leader Kalani English and Majority Caucus Leader Brickwood Galuteria. Finally, much appreciation to Representatives Tom Brower and Daniel Holt and their staff for rendering tremendous support in making the day a huge success. We are already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Tourism Day at the Capitol in 2018!
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