Pictured at center is Corvette Center Ministries Pastor Curtis Tsuzaki. The nonprofit group was O'ahu's strongest nonprofit fundraiser for this year's Walk.
As we wrap up the short work week and move officially into the holiday season, we at HLTA want to wish you all the best for a happy, restful, and safe Thanksgiving weekend. We truly hope that you will be able to enjoy this time with your 'ohana, friends, and loved ones.
On Monday, I flew over to attend Maui’s Charity Walk check allocation event at the Maui Beach Hotel where more than a million dollars were distributed to 60 local nonprofit organizations. Maui Charity Walk Chair Chris Rabang, MHLA Board Chair Angela Vento, MHLA Membership & Events Coordinator Christine Christensen, and I all shared remarks during the ceremony with Chair Vento aptly noting that the event, "was the perfect way to kick off Thanksgiving Week". I was so grateful for the opportunity to join our Charity organizers and nonprofit partners to celebrate another year of generosity on the Valley Isle.
"Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk Raises $1.2 Million to Help 60 Local Nonprofits," Maui Now, November 23, 2021
Yesterday, the O'ahu Charity Walk hosted its allocation event at the Prince Waikiki. As you may recall, more than $300K was raised through walkers, fundraisers, and corporate donors including Domino's Pizza Hawai'i, Central Pacific Bank, First Hawaiian Bank, Bank of Hawai'i, HEI/HECO, ABC Stores/Kosasa Foundation, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car among others. Mahalo to Mike and Karla Rompel from Domino's Pizza Hawai'i, Central Pacific Bank Vice President & Manager John Hulihe'e, Prince Waikiki General Manager Joshua Hargrove, and O'ahu Charity Walk Chair Simeon Miranda for helping me to distribute checks to more than 60 local organizations.
This truly is the most enjoyable part of the Charity Walk process, and it is extremely gratifying to know that our efforts continue to help countless organizations fulfill their missions of service. Mahalo to all who have helped to make this year's Charity Walk a complete success!
From left: Maui Hotel & Lodging Association Membership & Events Coordinator Christine Christensen; Maui Charity Walk Chair Chris Rabang; Maui Economic Opportunity CEO Debbie Cabebe; Ohana Pacific Management/Hale Makua Health Services Director of Communications & Development Ashley Takitani-Leahey; Maui Hotel & Lodging Association Board Chair Angela Vento; and Mufi. Maui Economic Opportunity and Hale Makua Health Services were two of the top three fundraisers among nonprofits.
Continuing on today's theme of giving, generosity, and service, I wanted to share with you another initiative that I have been working on through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This past Saturday, we hosted a launch ceremony for the holiday Light the World Giving Machines which have been set up at Pearlridge Center.
First debuting at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Giving Machines allow donors to purchase items such as backpacks, bedding, and even medical care which is then given to families and individuals in need. Since the program's inception in 2017, more than $9 million has been raised worldwide, and I am proud to say that Honolulu is one of only ten cities in the United States to have been chosen as a site for Giving Machines.
Four local charities have been selected as recipients of this year’s campaign including Aloha Medical Mission, Family Promise of Hawai‘i, Helping Hands Hawai'i, and the Salvation Army. These are all organizations that have participated in and benefited from Charity Walk, and I was extremely pleased to see that they were selected.
If you are interested in using a Giving Machine to make a charitable contribution this holiday season, you can find them at Pearlridge Center Mauka fronting Jeans Warehouse Kids. The machines will be open during mall business hours through January 2nd.
Pictured at the opening ceremony of the Giving Machine from left: Mufi Hannemann; Maia Green; Sam Green; Jaime Green; Honolulu City Councilmember Augie Tulba; and State Senator Kurt Fevella. Though he was unable to attend the event, Lt. Gov. Josh Green was selected to serve as Honorary Chair for this initiative
Yesterday, Gov. Ige announced the further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions which bodes well for local businesses of all types. Most notable among the changes were the following:
Hotels for Healthcare Heroes
The above mahalo ad ran in today's edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. To see a full-resolution copy in its entirety, please click the image above.
In our final wrap-up of our Hotels for Healthcare Heroes initiative, I wanted to share with you the mahalo ad that ran in today's Honolulu Star-Advertiser. In addition to a recap and a listing of each of our hotel partners who helped to make this possible, the ad featured several testimonials from medical professionals who utilized the program and from two of our participating hotel general managers.
I can't say enough about how many positive comments I've received about Hotels for Healthcare Heroes. It has been wonderful to be able to demonstrate how grateful our industry is to the men and women who have been working tirelessly to keep our community safe, and I want to commend each and every hotel that participated and made these people feel appreciated.
With the fundraising portion of Charity Walk completed and the total amounts tallied, we turn our attention to our favorite part of the process: giving out grants. The next several weeks will see the Charity Walk monies in each county be distributed to local nonprofits, charities, and other organizations to support their missions. With more than $2 million raised across the state, monies will be awarded to roughly 200 groups who fundraised and participated in this year's virtual event. I have personally received many complements and kudos for the amazing results of our association‘s signature charitable fundraising event.
Allocation Event Schedule
Kaua'i: December 2, 2021 @ Keoki’s Paradise
O'ahu: November 23, 2021 @ Prince Waikiki
Maui: November 22, 2021 @ Maui Beach Hotel
Hawai'i Island: TBD
Mahalo to all who helped to make our first-ever, virtual Charity Walk so successful. Let me again commend Statewide Chair Thomas Foti and our VICW chapter chairs for their creativity and hustle. Kudos to Beres Wall on Kaua'i, Simeon Miranda on O'ahu, Chris Rabang on Maui, and Simon Amos over on Hawai'i Island. These individuals, their Charity Walk coordinators, and so many of our members and volunteers dug deep or went above and beyond in creating new events and promotions, and their efforts were really evident when the final totals were calculated.
In Honolulu, self-service food options—such as buffets—remain restricted, and this has created various issues which have been raised by our members. In an effort to have these restrictions reconsidered, I issued a letter to Mayor Blangiardi explaining how this impacts many of our food establishments who rely on a self-service option, how other jurisdictions are handling it, how it can be done safely, and requesting his consideration in easing the existing restrictions by petitioning the State to support and amend the current restrictions. The topic was also raised in our regular Industry Update with the mayor earlier this week during which he expressed empathy and support for our stance.
Looking further into the matter, we were able to identify some locations on O'ahu that have been successfully operating self-service buffets with zero incidence of COVID-19 infections. I am extremely optimistic that the administration will be allowing self-service dining options to resume soon.
Allied Member Drive
This year, we've spent considerable time reinvigorating our HLTA Membership Committee, a very critical committee of our association. In early discussions, it was established that the core objective for the year would be to place a laser-like focus on cultivating new Allied members. Under the leadership of co-chairs Robin Kennedy-Oshio, Glenn Nakamura, and Glenn Vergara, the committee has successfully converted 60 new members to date and has also greatly assisted in Allied member retention and re-enrollment.
As we close in on year-end, we are making one final push to get new members to sign up in time to be included in our upcoming HLTA membership pictorial directory—a key member benefit and resource. If you can think of any businesses or individuals who would benefit from joining HLTA, please either direct them to our Membership page or have them contact Glenn Nakamura or Robin for more info!
Have a great and safe weekend,
On this Veterans Day, the Hawai'i Lodging & Tourism Association offers our deepest thanks to all those who have served our country. We send a special mahalo to the many veterans who work alongside us in Hawai'i's hospitality industry, and thank you for your willingness to serve in the name of the many freedoms that we cherish and hold dear.
We hope that today may be restful, restorative, and spent with your families and loved ones.
On November 8, international travel to the United Stated resumed. There has been a fair number of inquiries on what the process looks like for these guests, so we have compiled some key information for your reference.
The Presidential Proclamation and CDC Order is effective November 8, 2021, for travel from international airports to the United States. “Direct International Travelers” will no longer require a Safe Travel Account to present upon arrival to Hawai'i. “Non-Direct International Travel” will be considered domestic travel and passengers must have a Safe Travels account.
The following are options for your staff to check regarding Direct International Travelers’ exemption status:
NON-U.S. citizens traveling directly to Hawai'i from an international destination must present both a vaccination record and a negative COVID-19 test result (NAAT or antigen) within three days of boarding a flight to the United States.
U.S. citizens flying directly to Hawai'i from an international destination have two options:
There will be no additional State of Hawai'i requirements for passengers flying directly into Hawai'i from an international destination. No Safe Travels account will be required for entry to Hawaii. The airlines will screen passengers prior to their departure to the U.S. If foreign passengers fail to meet BOTH requirements and if U.S. citizens fail to meet ONE of the two requirements, they will not be allowed to board the flight.
Currently Accepted Vaccinations
More information about international travel processes can be found at https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/. Please also feel free to contact our offices at any time should have any questions or need further clarification.
The results are in, and the 2021 Visitor Industry Charity Walk was a smashing success. Despite being relegated to a virtual format, Charity Walk raised a statewide total of $2,053,804.84! You may recall that we raised a record $2.67M in 2019—the last time this iconic event was held in-person. To have raised nearly as much in 2021 is a testament to the commitment our visitor industry partners have to the community.
I recently was interviewed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about the Charity Walk’s pivot to a virtual format and was pleased to read an excellent piece in this morning's edition. The paper did a great job not only contextualizing the amount of money raised and the number of nonprofits that will be supported, but also connecting with some of our top fundraisers and notable nonprofit organizations.
"Visitor industry’s virtual Charity Walk raises $2 million," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, November 8, 2021
Take for instance, Chip Bahouth, the general manager at the Sheraton Kaua'i Resort: For years now, the property’s RumFire restaurant has donated a portion of their revenue to various charitable causes via their Table 53 initiative which contributes sales proceeds at the famous table. Chip has always been a staunch supporter of Charity Walk, and to see his efforts recognized was truly gratifying.
The Star-Advertiser also spoke with Chadd Paishon, the senior captain of Na Kalai Wa'a, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and perpetuating ocean voyaging traditions. The organization is a first-time participant in Charity Walk and went above and beyond in terms of participation and engagement, ultimately raising more than $18,000.
On O'ahu, we were fortunate to receive several big donations from community partners including Central Pacific Bank, which donated $50K, as well as Bank of Hawai'i, First Hawaiian Bank, HECO/HEI, and ABC Stores/Kosasa Foundation. I also must thank HLTA board member Mike Rompel who set up a special Domino's Hawai'i promotion that set aside a portion of all pizza sales to donate to Charity Walk. This translated to $50K being gifted to O'ahu's Charity Walk!
Finally, the Valley Isle has continued to set a high bar when it comes to fundraising totals. This year, Maui, Lana'i, and Molokai generated a whopping $1.203M on their own. This is an impressive number even considering how well Maui Nui does in each year's Charity Walk.
None of this would have been possible without amazing participation around our state and the leadership and hustle of several key individuals. First and foremost is our statewide VICW chair and newly-seated HLTA Chairperson Thomas Foti. Thomas brought a wealth of new ideas to this year’s Charity Walk, and the results of his hard work speak for themselves.
I would also like to commend our various county VICW Chairs: Beres Wall on Kaua'i, Simeon Miranda on O'ahu, Chris Rabang on Maui, and Simon Amos on Hawai'i Island. Each of our chapter leads worked tirelessly to drive participation and engagement throughout this year's Charity Walk process and this resulted in outstanding turnout across the islands.
I would be remiss not to also recognize some of the other key people who make Charity Walk as special as it is. Mahalo to HLTA Kaua'i Executive Director Samira Siale who, in her first year at the helm, is already making great strides on the Garden Isle. Thank you also to MHLA Events & Membership Coordinator Christine Christensen and Hawai'i Island Charity Walk Admin Bambi Lau. Lastly, a big shout out to my team at the HLTA statewide offices for all their hard work in making this year’s campaign another one for the books.
We are now in the process of convening our Allocation Committees which will be tasked with dispersing this money to our nonprofit partners later this month. We will keep you updated as to these upcoming events.
Today marks the official re-start for nonessential travelers to return to our state with confidence. I spent the morning on Hawai'i News Now's Sunrise segment to report on the rebound that the local tourism industry is beginning to experience—especially for the traditionally busy holiday season. As I noted in the interview and in other media appearances, this is great news but only marks the beginning of the road ahead. The tourism industry still has a long way to go to make up for the millions in losses incurred, and we are doing everything we can to keep the momentum moving in the right direction, and the industry as a whole is trying to bring back and hire as many people as possible.
"State welcomes back vaccinated tourists, but it will take industry time to make up for lost ground," Hawai'i News Now, October 31, 2021
"Hawaii hopes for a tourism rebound when visitors are welcomed back," KHON2, October 29, 2021
We are all aware of how impactful Governor Ige's August 23 request for nonessential travel to pause was for the local economy. His announcement came in the midst of an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 here in the islands, and re-opening travel hinged upon our community's ability to turn the tide on the pandemic. Below, you will find some recent metrics that Lt. Governor Green shared with me that illustrate just how well we are doing in this regard:
I have often said that part of our islands’ appeal in the destination market is that we are one of the safest places to visit. Throughout this past year, statistics have proven that we are also one of the healthiest places to visit. This will continue to be a key component as we welcome back both domestic and international visitors.
Hotels for Healthcare Heroes Round-Up
This past weekend marked the conclusion of HLTA's Hotels for Healthcare Heroes initiative which provided two-night staycations to doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff around our state. In total, 715 Heroes from 34 hospital groups received 1,430 room nights over the past seven weekends. This is a significant contribution to those who are working each day to address COVID-19, and I am beyond pleased that we were able to offer this to them.
The above is a reproduction of one of many thank you notes that were forwarded to us over the course of Hotels for Healthcare Heroes
While previous iterations of this program utilized State subsidies to pay for the room nights, this most recent H4HH was made possible solely through donations from our gracious hotel partners. Sixty-five hotel properties around the state participated in H4HH, and the feedback and gratitude we have received from our Heroes has been outstanding.
Hotels for Healthcare Heroes Participating Hotels
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
Aqua Palms Waikiki
Aqua Skyline Hotel at Island Colony
Aston Islander on the Beach
Aston Kona by the Sea
Aston Mahana at Kaanapali
Aston Waikiki Beach Tower
Aston Waikiki Sunset
Aston at the Waikiki Banyan
Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel
Best Western Pioneer Inn
Coconut Waikiki Hotel
Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk
Ewa Hotel Waikiki
Fairmont Kea Lani
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu/Kapolei
Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo - a DoubleTree by Hilton
Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
Hilton Garden Inn Kauai
Holiday Inn Express Waikiki
Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa
Aston Kaanapali Shores
Kaimana Beach Hotel
Luana Waikiki Hotel & Suites
Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club
Maui Beach Hotel
Mauna Kea Resort
Montage Kapalua Bay
Napili Kai Beach Resort
OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger
Ohia Waikiki Studio Suites
Poipu Kai Resort
Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
The Cliffs at Princeville
The Imperial Hawaii Resort
The Laylow, Autograph Collection
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach
The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort
Turtle Bay Resort
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Waikiki Resort Hotel
Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa
Wailea Beach Resort - Marriott Maui
White Sands Hotel
My deepest mahalo to each of you who helped to make Hotels for Healthcare Heroes a major success!
Stay in the know
Keep up with HLTA through our blog! Let us know what you think in the comment box below each post.