Charity Walk Kaua'i gathered at Keoki's Paradise on Thursday for their annual VICW check distribution event. Pictured at center are top fundraiser Lillian Watari (pink dress), Kaua'i Charity Walk Chair Beres Wall, and HLTA Kaua'i Executive Director Samira Siale
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the teams on Kaua'i and Hawai'i Island at their respective Charity Walk check distribution events.
On Thursday, Charity Walk Kaua'i gathered at Keoki's Paradise in Kōloa to hand out more than $260,000 to close to fifty nonprofit organizations that participated in this year's fundraising efforts. This was a huge year for the Garden Isle—especially with Charity Walk being held in a virtual format—and they did an amazing job in finding new and creative ways to drive participation. The event was attended by many of the Garden Island's elected officials led by Senate President Ron Kouchi and Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro. Sheraton Kaua'i Resort General Manager Chip Bahouth and Cliffs at Princeville General Manager Jim Braman again issued a fair warning that “they've got their eyes on O'ahu's Charity Walk numbers and are pushing hard to pass O'ahu next year.“ 😎
On Friday, Hawai'i Island held their allocation event at the Hilton Waikoloa where they handed out more than $282,000 to local nonprofits. This was another exceptional performance in a virtual setting led by Charity Walk Chair Simon Amos, HLTA Hawai'i Island Chair Craig Anderson, and ably assisted by Bambi Lau and their team over on Moku o Keawe. They, too, exceeded all expectations. The youngest of the Hawaiian Islands came out swinging this year, and it's starting to look like 2022 is anybody's game...at least for second place (Maui continues to prove that they are nō ka ʻoi).
Once again, I cannot say mahalo enough to everyone on all the islands for making our 42nd Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk a huge success!
Pictured above are some of the Hawai'i Island Charity Walk participants who received checks at the distribution event held on Friday. Standing in the back row are Mufi, Hawai'i Island Charity Walk Chair Simon Amos, and HLTA Hawai'i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson
While on the neighbor islands, HLTA VP of Government & Community Affairs Jared Higashi and I called upon the county mayors to meet and discuss a variety of county issues currently affecting the visitor industry. I was very grateful to have productive discussions with Kaua'i Mayor Derek Kawakami and Managing Director Michael Dahilig (left photo), as well as with Hawai'i Island Mayor Mitch Roth and Special Assistant to the Mayor Steve Bader (right photo).
Red Hill Fuel Tanks
As I am sure we have all been following the developing story at the Red Hill fuel tanks, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts about the possible implications of a possible contamination of our island's drinking water. As it stands, the initial leak of jet fuel was found to have originated in the Red Hill shaft. The Board of Water Supply subsequently shut down the Halawa shaft as a precaution. While the entire island technically draws from the same well, the only contamination that has been found thus far is in the Red Hill shaft. Over the weekend, the United States Navy announced the suspension of operations of the Red Hill fuel tanks and is working to address the contamination of a water supply that supports nearly 100,000 people.
The possible aftereffects of a widespread contamination of our water supply are nearly unquantifiable. While the leak is contained right now, if it were to spread to neighboring communities—or the aquifer itself—the repercussions for O'ahu's entire populace would be far-reaching and severe. The mere possibility of this occurring could possibly affect any strong comeback that the local tourism industry is planning for over the holiday period. As it stands, BWS has already encouraged residents to be wise with their water usage; should a situation develop where there is a water shortage or water rationing, the public debate around tourism and anti-tourism sentiments will surely spike again.
All these things being said, initial reporting indicates that the leak is confined to a single shaft. While there is no clear path forward at the moment, I am confident that everyone involved recognizes the importance of prioritizing and protecting O'ahu's residents and our water. We are going to continue to monitor the situation and will share any pertinent information with you.
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!
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:
Stay in the know
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