The Kukui Center
Earlier this week, I was invited to visit the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Kukui Center in downtown Honolulu to tour their facilities and meet with some of the programs that are housed in the complex on North Kukui and ‘A‘ala streets. The Kukui Center is the brainchild of the Kukui Children’s Foundation and its founding purpose was to create a center for abused children. The foundation purchased the historic building on the edge of Chinatown and spent more than two years raising funds and renovating to better serve the children and families who would one day utilize the facility. I was in on the ground floor helping to support the opening of the Center when I was Mayor.
It was such a pleasant surprise to learn that each of the eight organizations that call the Kukui Center home are Visitor Industry Charity Walk participants. These eight include: Family Promise of Hawai'i; Hale Kipa; Hawai'i Immigrant Justice Center; Hawai'i Literacy; Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies; Mediation Center of the Pacific; Leadership in Disabilities and Achievement of Hawai'i; and Kids Hurt Too Hawai'i.
Kids Hurt Too Hawai'i has an especially interesting program called HI Rising. Started in 2018, this program gives paid, work training experience to young adults who are either in the foster care system, about to age out of the foster care system, or a qualified Kids Hurt Too Hawai'i alumni. The participants staff and manage a retail location located in the Kukui Center. Over the course of the program, they are trained in a number of fields including: Computer Literacy; Introduction to Graphic Design; Fundamentals of Marketing; Retail and Personal Finances; Small Business Planning; Merchandising; Customer Service; and Mentoring and Life Skills Development.
ICYMI - Charity Walk Mahalo Ad
HLTA ran a special mahalo ad in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. To see the full resolution version, please click here.
IHS Waikiki SMART Program Launch
HLTA, along with the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and the Institute for Human Services, held a press conference on Monday to announce that HLTA and HTA would be donating $100,000 to help IHS launch the first phase of their Waikiki System Mediated Access to Rehabilitation and Treatment (SMART) Program. This program will focus on addressing individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness in the Waikiki area. The donation, which will fund the program for the next year, was made possible by State matching funds which were administered by HLTA and HTA. Over the past 4 years, HLTA, its members and the visitor industry has contributed more than $1.4 million to IHS.
You can read more coverage on this new program at the links below:
"State, tourism agencies fund effort to reduce chronic Waikiki homelessness," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Sept. 24, 2019
"HLTA and HTA donate $100,000 to help address homelessness in Waikiki," Pacific Business News, Sept. 24, 2019
General Membership Meeting
I am pleased to announce that Hilo native and 14-time Nā Hoku Hanohano award winner Mark Yamanaka will be playing a live set at HLTA’s 192nd General Membership Meeting during our reception on Friday evening. Mark has released four albums to date and has garnered numerous awards including Song of the Year, Single of the Year, Album of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year.
In the video below, check out Mark's rendition of Johnny Lum Ho’s Ka Leo O Ka Moa performed on stage at the historic Hawai'i Theater.
8th Annual Ka 'Ikena Reception
Mahalo to all who attended HLTA's 8th Annual Ka 'Ikena Reception! A special thank you to the KCC Culinary and Hospitality students who made this year's event a successful one.
Help, Understanding, & Group Support
Mufi was invited to HUGS' monthly, family get together at the organization’s facility in Kaimuki. HUGS, which stands for Help, Understanding, & Group Support, was founded in 1982 to assist and serve families who have a child in treatment for a serious disease. Their services support the child in treatment as well as the family members who may be struggling financially, spiritually, or emotionally.
General Membership Meeting
In the coming weeks, I’d like to share with you some of the events that we have planned for our 192nd General Membership Meeting which is to be held at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort from October 17th through 19th. The one event that I’m sure will be a hit this year is the tailgate party that HLTA will be hosting on Saturday evening to watch UH play the United States Air Force Academy. Join us for good fun, fellowship, and to root for Coach Rolovich and the Warriors as they take on the Fighting Falcons.
As a friendly reminder, please note that the cutoff date for regular GMM registration rates is September 30th (midnight), so please register as soon as possible. Once this deadline has passed, the cost of registration will rise from $375 to $425. It is also important that you register soon so that you may take advantage of our GMM room rate which starts at $295 per night. If you have any questions about registration, the room rate, or GMM in general, please do not hesitate to contact HLTA Director of Membership and Special Projects Ashley Yonamine at (808) 923-0407 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ka 'Ikena Reception
The 2019 Ka ‘Ikena Reception is next week Tuesday, September 24 and there are still seats available. Do not miss out on a night of delicious French cuisine prepared by the students of the Kapi‘olani Community College Culinary Arts Program. Not only will you get to taste food prepared by the future stars of Hawai‘i’s culinary scene, but also support the program that has groomed and prepared them for long and successful careers in the restaurant business. Please take a look at the menu below to see what’s in store and then click here to reserve your seat.
Monster X Tour 2020
This past April, monster trucks made their long-awaited return to the islands and fans of all ages flocked to Aloha Stadium to enjoy the show. It had been 23 years since the last time a monster truck rally was held on island and the event was a smash hit. It was another example of a sport that has a strong local fanbase and underscored the need to build a new stadium in order to accommodate world-class events like the Monster X Tour.
This week, I participated in a press conference at First Hawaiian Bank, the major sponsor, where it was announced that the Monster X Tour will be returning to O'ahu to host the Monster X Tour World Finals at Aloha Stadium on April 25th and May 2nd of 2020. The 2020 show is slated to include bull-riding, a freestyle motocross event, and a monster truck ride. Additionally, gear head fans will have multiple opportunities to meet the drivers and get on an actual monster truck. Tickets are already on sale on Ticketmaster or at the Aloha Stadium Box Office with prices starting at $28.
Mufi is pictured above at the September 17 Monster X press conference.
Charity Walk Presentation
As you may have seen, over the past several weeks I have been visiting with various groups that were strong participants in this year’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk. There are so many amazing charities, nonprofits, schools, and other service organizations that participate in the Visitor Industry Charity Walk and I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet the people who not only make Charity Walk a success, but also provide important services in different spheres of our community.
Mufi stopped by the Waikiki Community Center to drop off a $7,000 check to the organization which provides multi-generational services to better the lives of Waikiki residents of all ages.
A check for $10,000 was presented to the Hawai'i Meals on Wheels Board of Directors on Tuesday evening.
Kalihi YMCA Visit
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of teenaged students who are active at the YMCA’s Kalihi Branch. As somebody who grew up just around the corner from this particular YMCA it was an invitation that I was all too happy to accept. The group and I talked story for about an hour covering everything from growing up in Kalihi to the effects that rail may have on their community. They were a group of bright and engaging young adults from the neighborhood of my youth and I had a great time meeting with them. Mahalo to the YMCA for having me and a special thank you to Justin Vele for contacting me and inviting me in to speak with the group.
Marriott Business Council Meeting
Mahalo to Marriott International for inviting me to give another legislative update at their Business Council Meeting. Being that one of the major pillars of what we do at HLTA is advocacy on behalf of our association members and the visitor industry as a whole, it is always great to talk story directly to industry members on the legislative matters that we are prioritizing at the State and County levels. My remarks covered a number of issues ranging from transient vacation rentals to "overtourism" to the TAT to Property Taxes and to the Airport .
If you or your organization would be interested in having me give a legislative briefing, please do not hesitate to reach out to the HLTA office. It is critically important that we are all aware of the challenges currently facing the visitor industry so that we may be prepared to effectively address them.
Ka 'Ikena Is Just Around the Corner
The 8th Annual Ka ‘Ikena Reception is fast approaching! The menu has been finalized and I am sure that you will love it. The KCC students have decided to focus on French cuisine, taking special care to choose dishes that represent the entirety of French cooking and the French homeland.
Let’s have a strong showing from hoteliers and restaurateurs to show these students that their futures are bright within our industry. Please reserve your seat for this event as soon as possible. You may reserve your ticket at the link below.
Charity Walk Allocation Events
In an effort to recognize some of the organizations that stood out at this year's Visitor Industry Charity Walk, I have been presenting these groups with an oversize check to match my oversize gratitude for all of their hard work and fundraising this year. It has been encouraging to interact with them and to learn just how important these funds can be to small groups of people who are trying to make big differences. It truly drives home the impact that Charity Walk has on a year to year basis.
This past Monday, I delivered a check to Hawai'i Arts Alliance in a special ceremony at Kalihi Kai Elementary School. The local arts advocacy group immediately gifted a portion of their Charity Walk allocation sum to Kalihi Kai in support of the school's Turnaround Arts Program which uses arts integration strategies in specific schools. This was an especially touching event for me as I attended Kalihi Kai Elementary School in kindergarten and first grade.
I also recently visited with the Hawai'i Chapter of The Compassionate Friends. This nonprofit provides friendship, solace, and hope to families who are grieving after the loss of a child. The organization was founded more than 40 years ago in England and has grown to include more than 600 chapters around the world.
Finally, I met with members of Aloha Medical Mission, a group that, over the past several years, has become a strong participant in Charity Walk. This volunteer-driven organization is based in Hawai'i and provides free health care to under-served populations around the state and beyond. Their services include everything from free dental clinics to surgical teams that are sent to developing countries around the Pacific.
Japan Hawai'i Travel Association
Last Thursday, I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion that was hosted by the Japan Hawaii Travel Association as part of their annual seminar. I joined Senate Tourism Chair Glenn Wakai, House Tourism Chair Richard Onishi, and HTA President and CEO Chris Tatum for a lengthy conversation that was moderated by Kim Gennaula Hagi. We covered a variety of topics and issues that Hawai‘i’s visitor industry are currently facing including visitor safety, responsible tourism, managing “over tourism”, and the current state and direction of the Japanese market. This was followed by a short Q&A session during which a number of intriguing questions and ideas were raised. Mahalo JHTA for inviting me to participate in this year’s seminar.
Pictured from left to right are HTA President and CEO Chris Tatum, Senator Glenn Wakai, Mufi, Kim Gennaula Hagi, JHTA President and CEO Hiroyuki Kitagawa, and Representative Richard Onishi.
Hawai'i Island Allocations
On Tuesday night, I made the trip to Hawai‘i Island to attend the final Charity Walk check allocation event for 2019. This year, HLTA’s Hawai‘i Island Chapter raised a record $385,000. These monies were given to 58 different local nonprofits who contributed in a variety of ways to the success of this year’s event. Congratulations and mahalo to all who helped make this possible.
As we close the books on Charity Walk 2019, I want to express my deepest thanks to Hawai‘i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson, Hawai‘i Island Charity Walk Chair Steve Yannarell, and Charity Walk Admin Bambi Lau for all of their hard work this year. I am already excited for next year’s Charity Walk and can’t wait to see what benchmarks we surpass in 2020 and beyond.
Pictured from left to right are Hawai'i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson, Mufi, Charity Walk Admin Bambi Lau, and Hawai'i Island Charity Walk Chair Steve Yannarell.
2019 R.W. "Bob" Holden Scholars
Noah Matagi Magalei and his family came by the HLTA offices to pick up his scholarship check and talk about his plans for the future. Pictured in the front row from left to right: Malosi, Tu'ufuli, and Sasha. Back row, left to right, Mufi, Noah, and Noah's mother Lila.
I was pleased to meet with two more HLTA scholarship awardees. 2019 R.W. “Bob” Holden Scholarship winners Noah Matagi Magalei and Gellyn Flores both visited me at the HLTA offices to pick up their scholarship checks and talk story about their future plans in the visitor industry.
Gellyn is a student at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu where she is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Hospitality & Tourism and Marketing. She is a UH – West Oahu Chancellor’s Scholarship recipient and is currently completing an internship at the Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu. She is an outstanding student who has taken advantage of every opportunity afforded to her including HLTA’s Generational Mentorship Program during which she was advised by The Kahala Hotel & Resort General Manager Gerald Glennon.
Noah is a junior at Brigham Young University – Hawaii where he is majoring in Hospitality & Tourism. An Eagle Scout and former athlete, Noah is also a member of the Ho‘okipa Society which is a Hospitality & Tourism Management organization. He is also a former participant in our Generational Mentoring Program where he was mentored by Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club’s General Manager Christina Gabriel. Noah successfully completed the program in the spring of this year.
Congratulations Gellyn and Noah! I am confident that you will both go on to enjoy successful careers in this industry and I look forward to seeing you accomplish big things.
2019 R.W. "Bob" Holden Scholar Gellyn Flores met with me today to pick up her scholarship check. She then immediately turned and headed back to the Four Seasons Resort O'ahu for her shift. It was such a pleasure to be able to meet with her and talk about her goals.
Ka 'Ikena 2019
Please join me at Ka ‘Ikena 2019 which is to be held on Tuesday, September 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It will be an exciting evening where you will get to taste dishes prepared by the best and brightest of Kapi‘olani Community College’s Culinary Arts Program while also helping to raise funds that will benefit the culinary program. You will be amazed by the talents of these budding young chefs who represent the future of Hawai‘i’s restaurant industry. Please join us for this wonderful event where HLTA will also be honoring the latest recipient of the HLTA Scholarship in the Culinary Arts.
Pacific Century Fellows - Class of 2019
The Pacific Century Fellows (PCF) Program has announced its 17th cohort which includes 35 outstanding individuals who represent the best and brightest that Hawai‘i has to offer. This year’s class features a diverse group of men and women who come from a variety of backgrounds including financial institutions, healthcare, government, tourism, and the nonprofit sector, among others. Over the next nine months, Fellows will meet each month for an “education day” that will provide them with an in-depth look at a myriad of issues that affect Hawai‘i today. With these newfound perspectives, the Fellows will be encouraged to be more active citizens while applying what they have learned throughout the course of the program.
HLTA members and the visitor industry as a whole are well-represented in this year’s class. New Fellows from our membership include:
I founded PCF in 1996 based on the transformative experience that I had while participating in the White House Fellows program during the Reagan administration. Since PCF’s inception, nearly 475 people have successfully completed the PCF program and have gone on to successful and impactful careers in a multitude of fields. Two of the Fellows who were selected by a blue-ribbon panel of community leaders, in particular, come with strong visitor industry experience and backgrounds. Keli‘i Gouveia has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the restaurant industry that saw him progress from security to General Manager of Duke’s Waikiki, the position which he currently holds. Keli‘i also serves as chairman of the Hawai’i Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors and spends countless hours mentoring high school culinary students at Duke’s. HLTA Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs Jared Higashi has been a fixture in the HLTA offices for the past five years and has done exceptional work in our government relations and charity walk endeavors.
The tourism industry has also figured prominently in previous PCF classes. Last year’s Fellows included Dylan Ching who is the Area General Manager for TS Restaurants with oversight responsibilities for Waikiki and Kaua‘i. Also present in the Class of 2018 was Daniel Chun who is the Director of Sales, Community & Public Relations for Hawai’i at Alaska Airlines and who also serves on the HLTA Board of Directors. Other Fellows included Marriott International Senior Account Manager Allison Tomisato Alves and Founder of Akamai Training & Consulting, Corey Campbell, both of whom have been active in HLTA HYPE committee activities.
My congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2019 as they embark on this next journey in their personal and professional development.
Ka 'Ikena 2019
Our 8th Annual Ka ‘Ikena Reception is being held earlier than usual this year and the date is fast approaching. Please join me and my team on Tuesday, September 24th at the Ka ‘Ikena Dining Room at Kapi‘olani Community College where you will not only get to experience delicious dishes prepared by KCC culinary students but also help to support the very program that is training them for the future.
If you’ve attended this event in the past, you already know what an amazing experience it is. Exquisite cuisine, great company, and a wonderful time is to be had by all. This is an exclusive event and is limited to the first 100 people to reserve their tickets. Do not wait- register today by clicking the link below.
Aloha Festivals Check Presentation
This past Saturday, I attended Aloha Festivals’ Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony at The Royal Hawai’ian Hotel where I presented a check to event co-chair Sam Shenkus, of the Royal Hawai’ian Center, from our Visitor Industry Charity Walk. The ceremony officially kicked off Aloha Week, the single largest celebration of Hawai’ian culture in the nation. Interestingly enough, Aloha Week was founded in 1946 and HLTA, which was then known as Hawaii Hotel Association, was established in 1947. Both of these organizations have evolved alongside each other for the past 70 odd years. In addition to Aloha Week, Aloha Festivals oversees longstanding traditions like the annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a and the annual Floral Parade, both of which will be held later this month.
Yesterday afternoon, I was joined by two stalwart Chinatown advocates on HLTA’s online talk show, Tourism 101, at ThinkTech Hawaii. My guests for this episode were Honolulu Police Department Captain Mike Lambert and Neighborhood Commission Office Executive Director Shawn Hamamoto, who has also been tapped to serve as the City’s community liaison in the Chinatown area. To watch a recording of the episode, please click the following link.
Our topic this time around was the current state of Chinatown and how the City, HPD, local nonprofits, and the community are working to combat homelessness and make the neighborhood safe for all to enjoy. While many may think that HLTA mainly concerns itself with Waikiki and our “tourism” district, our mission includes making Hawai‘I a better place to live, work, and play for visitors and residents alike. In fact, just a few weeks ago HLTA, the Hawai‘i Hotel Industry Foundation, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, and the State of Hawaii presented checks to the Chinatown Improvement District and the Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center in support of their efforts to address the homelessness-related issues in the downtown Honolulu area as it is clear that many visitors also frequent and tour Chinatown.
Mahalo to ThinkTech Hawaii and their President and CEO Jay Fidell for the opportunity to host quality discussions of such important topics, and of course to HPD Captain Mike Lambert and Shawn for being great guests on the show. If you have an interesting topic or initiative that you would like to share with the community as it relates to tourism, please contact our Director of Communications, Jared Ellis, at email@example.com.
Ka 'Ikena 2019
Mufi is pictured above with the KCC culinary students who made Ka 'Ikena 2018 a shining success.
I am pleased to announce that HLTA will be holding its 8th Annual Ka ‘Ikena dinner at Kapi‘olani Community College on September 24, 2019. Once again we will gather members and their guests to taste the delicious creations of students who are enrolled in the culinary program at KCC. This event gives KCC’s chefs-in-training the chance to show their best work to some of our industry’s leaders while also raising awareness for their program. We also present a scholarship to a student enrolled in the culinary program. Please save the date. Bring your team, a bottle of wine, and join us to support KCC’s culinary students.
Rams - Cowboys
Saturday’s game was the first time that the NFL has hosted a professional game in Hawaii since 1976. Both teams expressed their gratitude to the local fanbase as they were blown away by the aloha spirit that they felt. I am hopeful that this reception will set the tone for many more opportunities with the NFL and HTA in the future.
While the game was exciting and the atmosphere in the stands was electric, I have to admit that my favorite part of this experience was the way that the league made an effort to connect with our community in such a positive way. I’ve covered this topic extensively in my previous messages so I won’t go into too much detail here. For more coverage of the game and its effect here in the islands, you can click the following links below:
"With success of Rams-Cowboys game, tourism officials hope for more," Hawaii News Now, August 19, 2019
"Cowboys-Rams pregame show: Tourism officials hopeful for Hawaii's future with NFL," Hawaii News Now, August 20, 2019
"The Rams-Cowboys matchup will be the first NFL preseason game since 1976: when will it return again," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, August 17, 2019
"NFL preseason game is a boost to local economy," KHON 2, August 15, 2019
Charity Walk Check Presentations
I have continued to meet with some of the strongest participants in this year’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk to present checks to outstanding organizations who had a strong showing, be it through donations or volunteer numbers, at this year’s walk. It has been such a pleasure to be able meet some of the leaders and members of groups like the Domestic Violence Action Center and the Japan-America Society of Hawaii and present them a check for their hard work and participation. JASH has been a supporter and recipient of Charity Walk funds for several years.
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