Keiki in the Kitchen
Earlier this year, the Hawai'i Agriculture Foundation (HAF) launched its Young Entrepreneurs program for local students in culinary and agricultural pathways. Middle and high school students from around the state worked with their teachers to formulate business plans around a product that they had created. Yesterday, these students had the chance to sell their creations at the Made in Hawai'i Marketplace for Kids by Kids which was held as part of Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival's Keiki in the Kitchen at Victoria Ward Park.
As we have with other events, HLTA and the Hawai'i Tourism Authority have made it a goal to show support for tourism-related activities that help our youth. I represented HTA at an HAF teacher training session earlier to speak in support of the culinary business and agri-tourism and expressed our support to include neighbor island participation in these kinds of opportunities on O'ahu. In keeping with this, HTA sponsored the travel expenses for neighbor island students and teachers from Maui and Hawaii Island to participate in yesterday's event. HTA President & CEO Chris Tatum and I joined Hawai'i Agricultural Foundation Executive Director Denise Yamaguchi yesterday to tour the free, outdoor event in Kaka’ako and met with the students and educators who were part of yesterday’s festivities.
We were incredibly impressed not only by the ono food items, but also the attention to detail and creativity of the marketing and packaging of each school's product and by the variety of items that they brought to the marketplace. Our hats off to all of the students and their teachers for a job well done and we look forward to next year’s event.
The following schools were in attendance: Olomana School; Pearl City High School; Roosevelt High School; Konawaena High School; Leilehua High School; Baldwin High School; Aiea High School; Kaiser High School; Waipahu High School; Farrington High School; 'Ilima Intermediate School; and Waipahu Intermediate School.
Na Po'e Pa'ahana - DEADLINE EXTENDED
The nomination period for our 30th Annual Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards is now open! We will be extending the cutoff date until midnight of November 8. Please take a moment to submit an entry for your best hotel & lodging employees so that their hard work and aloha spirit may be recognized.
To submit an entry, please click here.
Momilani Elementary School
On Friday evening, Mufi visited Momilani Elementary School to present a check from Charity Walk to the school's PTSO, Hui o Momilani, at their Halloween Costume Ball. Momilani has been one of the most active participants through the years - they raise money and bring enthusiastic volunteers and walkers every year!
Traveler's Choice Awards
The annual Traveler's Choice Awards for Restaurants were recently announced. These awards are given out based upon one year of TripAdvisor reviews. This year, several Hawai'i restaurants received awards. In the Fine Dining category, Lahaina Grill ranked 4th, Mama's Fish House (Maui) took 8th, and Merriman's in Waimea was the 9th pick.
In the Fast Casual Eateries category, Teddy's Bigger Burgers was the 8th ranked restaurant.
But I’d like to reserve a special shoutout to TS Restaurants whose Duke's Waikiki restaurant ranked 7th in the nation for the Everyday Dining category. TS Restaurants' energetic CEO Jackie Reed was just installed as one of our newest board members at our GMM at the Hapuna Resort on Hawaii Island recently. Congrats also to TS Restaurants Area General Manager Dylan Ching and Duke's Waikiki General Manager Keli'i Gouveia, both of whom have been very supportive of many HLTA initiatives.
To see the full set of rankings, please click here.
Mufi is pictured above with TS Restaurants' CEO Jackie Reed, left, at HLTA's 192nd General Membership Meeting on Hawai'i Island. Reed was recently installed on HLTA's Board of Directors. Also pictured is Southwest Airlines' Community Affairs & Grassroots Senior Specialist Kelly Knox.
192nd General Membership Meeting
We are back in the HLTA offices having just wrapped up an amazing weekend at the West Hapuna Beach Resort where we held our 192nd General Membership Meeting. It was a pleasure to catch up with so many familiar faces and to get to know some of our newest HLTA members.
We kicked off the weekend on Thursday evening with an event hosted by our Women In Lodging & Tourism Committee. The discussion panel included guest speakers Malani DeAguiar of Kamehameha Schools and Ku'ulei Keakealani-Case from Ka Pilina Poina 'Ole and was deftly moderated by Kawehi Inaba of Kupa'a Business Planners.
The panel, which was entitled Moku O Keawe: A Sense of Place, opened with an oli and covered a wide variety of topics that focused on how a person can begin to belong to a physical place like Hawai'i by embracing and adopting the local cultural practices and protocols. It was an especially fitting topic as our industry works to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture in a sensitive way.
On Friday morning, our Allied Members took the stage at our annual Sponsor Showcase where they exhibited their best products and services.
Friday Lunch & Learn
After lunch and the HLTA Board of Directors Meeting, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green joined us as our first Lunch & Learn Speaker for this year's GMM. The Lieutenant Governor focused his remarks on homelessness, which has been his main focus on behalf of Governor David Ige's administration. He commended HLTA for its active financial support for non-profit groups throughout the state.
Following Lieutenant Governor Green, we hosted a government panel that included State Senator Kai Kahele, State Representative James Tokioka, and Hawai'i County Councilmember Tim Richards III. Mauna Kea Resort General Manager and Vice President of Operations Craig Anderson served as moderator and led a quality discussion on the tourism industry, the government arena, and how these two entities affect each other.
Friday night's reception featured a "Trashion Show" led by Hawai'i County Councilmember Rebecca Villegas, second from right.
After the "Trashion Show," HLTA members were treated to a live performance by 14-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award Winner Mark Yamanaka.
General Membership Meeting
On Saturday morning, we held our General Membership Meeting where we said farewell to HLTA Chairman Glenn Vergara who, for the past year, has been exemplary in this leadership role. He tirelessly worked to grow our association and was passionate about Charity walk. Glenn passed the gavel to our new Board Chair Michael Jokovich. This will be his second time serving in this capacity and, if I remember anything from his last tenure, you can be certain that all HLTA events under his leadership will be meaningful and fun!
I also delivered my annual State of the Industry Address. My remarks this year highlighted our key partnerships, the issues that our industry will face in 2020 like overtourism, illegal vacation rentals, possible increases to the TAT and Real Property Tax rates, the establishment of an Airports Corporation, and homelessness. A key portion of my speech also focused on where HLTA must go from here to meet these challenges successfully.
One of our main areas of focus going forward will be to grow the HLTA membership base. At GMM, I issued a personal request to our membership that each member personally strive to bring two new members into the HLTA fold before our trade show in April. I shared a video showing some of the perks that come with joining our association. You can see that at the link below.
Each of You Reach Two - GMM 2019
I also announced our newest public engagement initiative, the HLTA Education Fund, which will serve one main goal: to EDUCATE our elected officials, stakeholders, and the general public on the positive effect that our industry has on our community as a whole.
Going forward, I emphasized that the leaders of our industry must take a more active role in the political process. As we are approaching a major election year, there is a significant opportunity to elect candidates from our industry who will consistently support our causes. For this reason, we must continue to contribute to our HOTELPAC so that the candidates of our choosing will have the backing needed to win key races.
Senator Kurt Fevella was kind enough to join us to tell his story and share how HLTA helped him to emerge victorious in the last election. Mahalo to Senator Fevella for making the trip to Hawai'i Island and for being such a strong ally for the tourism industry of Hawai'i.
If you would like a copy of my GMM remarks, please e-mail our Director of Communications Jared Ellis at email@example.com.
Saturday Lunch & Learn
Our final Lunch & Learn session of the weekend was a good one.
John De Fries, Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, led things off with a powerful speech that touched on topics that ranged from the Kumulipo, to the Hokule'a, to the use of 'olelo Hawai'i to name celestial objects that have been discovered through telescopes in Hawai'i. I heard multiple positive comments about the subject matter from those in attendance.
Hawai'i Tourism Authority President & CEO Chris Tatum was our last speaker for the weekend and his presentation on tourism management, delivered in a markedly talk story style, was the perfect way to come full circle on many of the topics that were touched on throughout the weekend.
My sincerest mahalo to all of those who shared their mana'o at this year's GMM and to all of you who took the opportunity to share your thoughts on what is important for our industry. It is always refreshing to hear different viewpoints on the subjects that we spend so much of our time and energies.
Tailgate By the Sea
On Saturday evening, HLTA members descended upon the Makai Pool and Naupaka Grille to enjoy our first ever Tailgate by the Sea. In addition to an amazing sunset and delicious food, multiple TVs were set up for our members to cheer on the UH Warrior football team as they took on Air Force.
While we were at GMM, readers of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and USA Today around the state found the HLTA story on a special spadea that we've reproduced above. If you'd like to see a high resolution copy of all four pages, please click here.
In closing, my warmest mahalo to everybody who attended and made our 192nd General Membership Meeting a success. Thank you in particular to Craig Anderson and the entire staff at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. Mahalo for hosting us and for making our stay a pleasant and memorable one.
Final Call to Register for GMM
While the normal registration period for HLTA's 192nd General Membership Meeting has closed, you can still register to join us at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort by clicking the button below. We have a full weekend of educational and networking opportunities that you do not want to miss out on. I am most looking forward to seeing you all next week.
Campaign for a Safer Community
Hoʻōla Nā Pua, a local nonprofit organization that combats sex trafficking, is partnering with the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and HLTA to host free, four-hour seminars on O'ahu, Maui, Hawai'i Island, and Kaua'i during the first week of November. The workshops will include industry-specific topics such as "Defining Trafficking & Exploitation," "Tourism Industry as Key Partners in Protecting Our Community," and "Responding, Reporting and Action Steps."
The seminars are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
30th Annual Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards
Each year, the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association hosts the Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards to honor individuals who have contributed to the visitor industry through their professionalism, their engagement with the community, and the way in which they have consistently embodied the Aloha Spirit. These are the employees who continue to make Hawaii a premier destination. Our industry relies on their dedication and commitment to providing stellar service to all those that visit our islands. This year's Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards has been scheduled for January 9 at the HiIton Hawaiian Village.
The nomination period is now open and will run through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 1. In eight of the ten award categories, finalists will be recognized in small, medium, and large-size lodging properties. These categories include:
To nominate one of your outstanding employees for this year's Na Po'e Pa'ahana Awards, please click here.
Samaritan Counseling Center - Hawai'i
Last night, I attended a mahalo reception that the Samaritan Counseling Center of Hawaii hosted for their supporters. The organization, which provides counseling at little to no cost to people in need, is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. In the time since their establishment, the Samaritan Counseling Center has helped more than 8,000 people improve their well-being and have facilitated nearly 74,000 hours of counseling and compassionate care.
Congratulations and mahalo to the Samaritan Counseling Center of Hawaii, their staff, and all of their supporters on 30 outstanding years of service.
LA Clippers in the Community
The Los Angeles Clippers were in Honolulu where they have held their preseason training camp for the past three years. There has been extensive coverage of the team's practice and play over the past week against the Houston Rockets and the Shanghai Sharks but I want to share with you some of the things that the Clippers have been doing off the court with Hawaii Tourism’s assistance.
A while back, the Clippers asked for our help in identifying a local public school that could benefit from a charitable donation from the organization. After hearing the Clippers' criteria, I immediately thought of Central Middle School and suggested them as an ideal fit. Last week Friday, I joined Central Middle School Principal Anne Marie Murphy and LA Clippers President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker as they unveiled a new technology and innovation hub at the Honolulu middle school. The team donated iPads, virtual reality headsets, and 3D printers that will surely help to prepare Central Middle School's students for the hi-tech job market of today.
If this wasn't enough, the Clippers also decided at the very last minute to rehabilitate the Central Middle School basketball courts. When the team arrived at the school to begin outfitting the tech hub, Zucker noticed the nearby court in disrepair. She and her team made sure that the work to patch pieces of the concrete and install new rims, backboards, and nets were done within 48 hours!
Check out this video that was posted on the Clippers' Facebook page.
On Saturday, The Clippers hosted a full day of skills clinics at Klum Gym. Kids ranging from ages 6-14 from around the state all got a chance to hone their skills under the watchful eyes of the Clippers' coaching staff. A special coaches clinic was also conducted. My deepest thanks to the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and their President Chris Tatum for providing us with the funding necessary to invite a large contingent of neighbor island players to O'ahu to reap the benefits of the LA Clippers' skills clinics. HLTA was proud to make arrangements for players from Moloka'i, Lana'i, Maui, Kaua'i, and Hawai'i Island to travel here to take part in this unique opportunity and made sure that all parts of O’ahu were represented at the clinic for the first time.
Charity Walk Check Presentations
I've been grateful to once again visit with some of our outstanding Charity Walk organizations. The two mentioned in my message this week have been strong participants over the past several years and their causes have truly reaped the benefits.
Adult Friends for Youth's mission is to halt violence in an effort to strengthen families and make communities safer. Their model focuses on several core programs which include: Neighborhood Outreach; School-Centered Counseling; Clinical C-Base Alternative Education Program and Student Anti-Bullying and Violence Conventions; and the PEARL (Promoting Peace, Empathy, Acceptance, Respect, and Love). Adult Friends for Youth serves more than 300 youth per week, many of whom have been engaged in destructive behaviors like substance abuse, fighting, and other criminal activities.
Corvette Center Ministries is based in Wai'anae and works closely with the homeless population in that area. This year, they received significant funds that will support their Zion 'Ipuka program which is a housing initiative that provides qualified applicants with a private living space, bedding, and some furniture. The residents, many of whom are elderly, share common areas including bathroom and kitchen facilities on the 2-acre property. Zion 'Ipuka members pay whatever they can afford and also maintain the property.
Mahalo to Adult Friends for Youth and Corvette Center Ministries for all that they do.
West Maui Committee Meeting
Last Tuesday, I was invited to the West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee Meeting by Committee Chair Kai Nishiki and Maui County Council Chair Kelly King to speak on the topic of economic opportunity through innovation and collaboration via the visitor industry both on Maui and throughout the rest of the state. I deem these opportunities so important that, when having discussions centered around tourism management, visitor industry and local stakeholders MUST be at the table.
My presentation focused on eight points that are key to managing tourism that include: contributions through charitable initiatives; community engagement; affordable housing and the adoption and enforcement of local transient vacation rental laws; transportation; environment and natural resources; native Hawaiian culture; homelessness; and tourism strategic plans.
In closing, I shared some of my experiences and the takeaways that I gleaned while enacting the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Initiative in the mid-1990's. These range from a willingness to consider all points of view to how to effectively use entrance fees to improve and maintain a specific natural resource.
I also held a Q&A session, and a positive and meaningful discourse ensued that I enjoyed immensely.
HLTA Kaua'i Malama Awards
Each year, HLTA’s Kaua‘i Chapter hosts their Mālama Awards which recognizes Kaua‘i HLTA members and the Garden Isle's exceptional visitor industry employees who make Kaua‘i a top-tier destination. Jared Higashi represented me at their 22nd annual event at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i. My warmest congratulations to all of the individuals who were recognized .
I would like to give special recognition to HLTA Kaua‘i Chapter Executive Director Morgan Lopez and the Mālama Awards Planning Committee which includes Denise Wardlow, Jim Braman, Sandi Kato Klutke, and Shaun Borges. Finally, a special shout out to former Chapter President Paul Toner, and Kaua‘i Chapter President Dan King who hosted the event at his hotel.
Generational Membership Meeting
While the normal registration period has closed, you can still register to join us for our 192nd General Membership Meeting! We are less than two weeks away and I hope that you will be able to join us.
There has been a heavy focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness across the industry as of late. Staying true to this theme, on Friday evening at GMM, Hawai'i County Councilmember Rebecca Villegas will be hosting a fashion show that will showcase DIY fashion ideas that incorporate recycled materials into their creation. We encourage HLTA members who will be attending to keep in mind the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra and to show up wearing their finest "trashion" attire.
For some inspiration, please check out the photos below.
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