Yesterday afternoon, we kicked off the 2021-2022 class of our Generational Mentoring program. This year, we were blessed with an amazing group of applicants from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa TIM School, UH - West O'ahu, Brigham Young University - Hawai'i, and Hawai'i Pacific University. Nineteen of these students will participate in Generational Mentoring this year and, I look forward to seeing them thrive over the next six months.
Congratulations to this year's class of Generational Mentees:
I also want to send a special mahalo to our mentors for this year. Generational Mentoring would not be possible without these individuals who so willingly share their time, experience, and insights with the students. Mahalo to the following industry leaders:
Since Tuesday, October 19, when Governor Ige announced that nonessential travelers can book their trips to Hawai'i with confidence starting November 1, the media has been rife with coverage about the Governor's decision. This is a big boost for our industry to kickstart our economic recovery, but our efforts aren't over yet.
"As Hawaii welcomes visitors back, a battle brews between union and hotels," KHON2, October 20, 2021
"2 months after asking tourists to stay away, governor once again throws out the welcome mat," Hawaii News Now, October 20, 2021
"A plea for respect as Hawaii prepares to welcome back vaccinated visitors starting Nov. 1," KHON2, October 20, 2021
"Hawaii governor invites visitors to return on Nov. 1," Travel Weekly, October 19, 2021
Now, with the State rules clear, we must turn our attention to the various counties where restrictive mandates continue to place hardships on local businesses. While it is imperative that we strike a fine balance between public health and economic recovery so as not to trigger another wave of COVID-19 infections, it is equally important that we begin to re-establish events and larger gatherings, both structured and not.
"Governor Ige encourages visitors to come to Hawaii," KITV, October 19, 2021
"Hawaii to welcome non-essential travel to and within state starting Nov. 1: Gov. Ige," KHON2, October 19, 2021
"Ige Invites All Travelers Back to Hawai´i in Major Policy Shift," Big Island Now, October 19, 2021
"HLTA: Return to Non-Essential Travel on Nov. 1 is First Step in Getting Economy Moving," Maui Now, October 19, 2021
"Gov. David Ige invites visitors to resume non-essential travel to Hawaii on Nov. 1," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, October 19, 2021
In our ongoing discussions with our local State and county officials, we have continued to press for adjustments, and I feel that we will see some very welcome amendments to present rules shortly, especially given the Governor's recent announcement.
In the meantime, please enjoy your weekend.
For Immediate Release
October 19, 2021
STATEMENT FROM HAWAI‘I LODGING & TOURISM ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT & CEO MUFI HANNEMANN
HONOLULU--Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association President & CEO Mufi Hannemann offered the following statement in response to Governor David Ige’s announcement that non-essential travel to the state can resume effective Nov. 1. The announcement was made at a joint media appearance at the opening of the Federal Inspection Services facility at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole.
“The local tourism industry is pleased that Governor Ige signaled today that he is ready to welcome non-essential travelers back to Hawai‘i beginning November 1. While we recognize that there are still details that need to be sorted out—paying special mind to input from the county mayors and information provided by the healthcare community and the business sector—this announcement is an important first step toward getting our economy moving again safely and judiciously.”
“We also commend Mayor Roth for making clear that we want healthy, vaccinated travelers to return to Hawai‘i as soon as possible. The November 1 timeline is something that HLTA and our statewide coalition of representatives from tourism, restaurants, retail, ground and air transportation, attractions, labor unions, and chambers of commerce has pushed for from the very beginning—in our discussions with the Governor and in a letter to him—and we are gratified to see it come to fruition.”
“We look forward to working with Governor Ige and his administration to shape a clear message to prospective travelers that Hawai‘i is open for business and travel can once again be booked with confidence.”
About the HLTA
The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association is the state’s largest private organization representing hotels, condominiums, timeshares, other lodging entities, suppliers, and related firms and individuals with a connection to tourism. HLTA is dedicated to supporting the hospitality industry through education, political action, and membership benefits, and raising awareness about its contributions throughout the state.
Yesterday, Outrigger Hospitality Group President & CEO Jeff Wagoner and I appeared on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's Spotlight Hawai'i segment to discuss the state of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry. More specifically, it was an opportunity to provide updates on the industry one month after Governor Ige’s request to halt nonessential travel to Hawai'i. As a pair, we brought a unique and diverse look to the local tourism market as our focuses cover not only hotels but also air travel, retail, restaurants, small business, community outreach, and more.
All in all, it was a strong and positive segment that you can watch in its entirety by clicking the link above. A special mahalo to Ryan Tsuji, Yunji De Nies, and the viewers who asked great questions and gave us a platform to discuss myriad issues currently facing the tourism sector.
Hotels for Healthcare Heroes
We have now reached the fourth week of our Hotels for Healthcare Heroes initiative which provides complimentary, two-night staycations to hospital doctors, nurses, and other critical healthcare staff who are working tirelessly to address COVID-19. Through Week 4, the program has now helped 38 hospital groups and has provided much needed respite to a total of 424 individuals/families, allotting 848 room nights in total. The program is set to continue through the end of the month, and I wanted to provide you all with a quick snapshot as to how many heroes and families we've assisted (see graphic above) and share with you a couple of the numerous mahalo notes that we have been sent.
Mr. Hannemann and staff,
These are just two short notes that we've received from the folks who've been selected for the H4HH program and were only made possible through the amazing support of our participating hotel partners. You may recall that earlier iterations of the Hotels for Heroes program relied upon State subsidies to provide room nights. For this latest version, our hotel members have stepped up to the plate and are generously donating these rooms for our healthcare professionals. I also cannot say enough of the wonderful working relationship we have with the Health Care Association of Hawai’i.
I've been extremely gratified to witness the aloha and kōkua required from our industry to make this initiative a success, and I send a very special mahalo to all those who have participated.
Save Hotel Jobs Act
Last week, statistics released by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported that total visitor spending in August was $1.37B. This number is nearly 10% lower than visitor spending in August of 2019, a year during which we experienced robust arrivals and spending. Numerous circumstances factor into these lower spending numbers, but it certainly is indicative of the current state of travel and tourism in our state.
"Hawaii hotels projected to lose more than $1 billion in business travel revenue this year," KHON2, October 5, 2021
Hawai'i, like many other jurisdictions reliant upon tourism, is still suffering the effects of the pandemic and travel restrictions. Despite localized efforts from our State and county officials, it is becoming all the more clear that federal intervention is both needed and welcome.
One example is the Save Hotel Jobs Act that Senator Brian Schatz introduced in April which proposes the following:
Gov. Ige's Proclamation - A Clarification
I've been receiving numerous calls and texts about Gov. Ige's press conference this afternoon and want to provide some clarity on what the emergency proclamation means.
Gov. Ige's previous emergency proclamations were all in effect for sixty days, and his previous proclamation was set to expire on Oct. 4. By signing a new proclamation today, he has extended all emergency rules including limits on gathering size and the use of masks indoors. You may recall that Gov. Ige had previously announced that Safe Travels would be shut down when the state reached 70% vaccination. However, due to the Delta variant's spread, he made clear that this would not be the case, and the emergency proclamation would have to be updated.
In regard to our coalition meeting with the Governor and our request for him to make clear that travel to Hawai'i is welcome, he had this to say during today's press conference: “I have been meeting with the visitor industry- we just met this past week. We are looking at and working to identify just like the last time when we had launched Safe Travels on Oct. 15, the industry did let me know that it does take time to ramp up. They would like at least two-weeks notice ahead of any significant change. I am committed to working with them and actively promoting just as we did in August when we asked not to travel to the islands. Certainly I will be working with the industry, airlines, hotels, to deliver the message. We want to ensure that travelers are vaccinated, they are respectful of our requirements here. And certainly we would be looking at messaging that Hawaii continues to welcome visitors at the appropriate time.”
To be clear, Gov. Ige's August 23rd request for nonessential travel to halt was not a mandate and was stated while the State was under emergency proclamation. This extension of emergency rules does not preclude the Governor from announcing that nonessential travel to Hawai'i can resume.
The Star-Advertiser noted this, writing that, "with case and hospitalization numbers trending downward, [Ige] said 'we will be considering getting to a point where we will be inviting visitors back to the islands.'"
I hope this clarification helps. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, Jared Higashi, or Jared Ellis at any time. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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