In this week's message, I want to share with you a brief update on several issues on which HLTA has been focusing.
Yesterday afternoon, I had an extremely productive conversation with U.S. Representative Ed Case who shed light on a variety of issues that have recently been raised by the passage of the CARES Act. One of the critical topics that came up was the Paycheck Protection Program which is meant to help small businesses keep their employees on payroll as long as possible. These funds are now available and more than 10,000 applications have already been submitted. If your business is eligible for this program, you need to submit an application as soon as possible. For more information, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website here.
Since its enactment, I have sent out multiple updates about the CARES Act and its provisions. Currently in the works is another stimulus package which is another opportunity to receive additional assistance from the Federal government. Rep. Case is a longtime member of our local hotel and lodging community and it is encouraging to know that he is looking out, in particular, for our industry.
On Thursday night, I was invited by House Minority Leader Gene Ward to speak to his constituents at his district Summit. What was originally scheduled to be a talk story session at Kona Brewing Company was rescheduled as a virtual Zoom meeting. During our session, I shared my outlook on the COVID-19 outbreak, highlighted some of the ways that the visitor industry has responded to the recent crisis, and referenced other disasters that I personally had to face while Mayor of the City & County of Honolulu. Mahalo to Representative Ward for inviting me, and a special shout out to all those who joined us from the Hawai'i Kai area to share their mana'o.
Over the next week, I will also be attending two other meetings aimed at our recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak. On Monday, House Speaker Scott Saiki will convene the third meeting of the Select House Committee on COVID-19 Economic & Financial Preparedness. The committee has 26 representatives from different sectors of our economy, and the tourism industry is represented by myself, HTA President & CEO Chris Tatum, and Hawaiian Airlines President Peter Ingram. Moreover, I am organizing a meeting next week for industry stakeholders to come together and discuss a strategy to seek relief from local and state government. I’ll be inviting representatives from our HLTA neighbor island chapters to join us.
Hawai'i's visitor industry has a long history of community service and charitable efforts. The businesses and people that make up our tourism sector truly embody the aloha spirit, and it has been uplifting to see these traditions carried on, especially in the face of COVID-19.
Hotels For Heroes
Earlier this week, we announced our Hotels for Heroes initiative. This program, which offers complimentary hotel rooms for individuals on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak, was made possible through the partnership between HLTA, HTA, and HVCB. Through this program, which is funded by state tourism dollars, we have established points-of-contact with the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, the Hawaii Medical Association, police and fire departments in all counties, State law enforcement with the Attorney General’s Office, DLNR, DPS, and DOT, as well as EMTs and paramedics on all major islands. Each of the sectors was personally contacted by HLTA and will book reservations for their participants through HVCB. To date, we have had 35 hotels sign up to participate in this program and continue to add to our list of participating hotels on a daily basis. The positive reaction from the aforementioned organizations that we are working with to enable individuals to participate in this program has been overwhelming!
"'Hotel for Heroes' safe stay for essential personnel," KHON 2, April 2, 2020
"Interisland quarantine order empties Hawaii airports," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, April 2, 2020
Mahalo to the crew from Hawaii Nautical!
HLTA & Hawaii Nautical Donation Collection
Behind the scenes, HLTA has also partnered with Hawaii Nautical to collect donations of essential items like linens, towels, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and furniture for our homeless population. Hawaii Nautical and their crew have been picking-up these items from hotel properties and businesses around O'ahu and delivering them to us so we can sort, clean, and distribute them to various projects including the COVID-19 Temporary Quarantine Center that was established through a partnership with the State Department of Health, City and County of Honolulu, Institute for Human Services, Local 5, and the Hawai'i Homeless Healthcare Hui.
"Oahu hotels donate items large and small for COVID relief," KHON2, April 2, 2020
These are just two of the ways that HLTA has continued our work to advocate not only for our industry, but for our community as a whole. Please have a good weekend. Stay safe, keep washing your hands, and take care of yourself and your family.
Mahalo to all those who donated items this week!
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