Last week, HLTA partnered with Aloha Harvest to host our final food distribution event in support of O'ahu hospitality workers and their families who are still feeling the effects of the pandemic. More than 1,000 families signed up in advance for a food bundle, each of which included fresh produce, milk, eggs, and protein
This was the first time that we hosted a food distribution event at the Waipi'o Soccer Complex, and I want to thank Park Manager “Shan” Ramachandran Sudharshan and City Department of Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness Officer Crystal van Beelen for helping us make this a success. I would also like to thank Honolulu Disposal Service for sponsoring a dumpster bin for the day. Finally, I want to send a special mahalo to all the amazing volunteers who came out and staffed the event and shout out to HLTA O'ahu Chapter Chair Simeon Miranda who joined us for the day!
Tomorrow, we will host our annual Citizen-Scholars Awards Ceremony via Zoom to honor the Class of 2021. Hailing from public high schools around the state, each of these students represents the very best and brightest in their school and their community. This year's class features an outstanding cadre of students who have excelled above and beyond both inside and outside of the classroom. The accomplishments of this particular class are all the more impressive when you consider that many of the successes of these 41 Citizen-Scholars occurred during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
It is only fitting that this year we announce new prizes for the Citizen-Scholars program. This year, a top student was selected from each of the four counties. These students will each receive an additional $2,500. We have also decided to award prizes to the top male and female scholar statewide; these two students will each receive an additional $5,000.
Mahalo to our partners, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and the Department of Education, who help to make this possible year after year. Special thanks also to each of our sponsors who generously helped to provide funding for this year's Scholars:
HLTA and other industry partners have joined International Market Place and The Queen's Health Systems to host three vaccination events this summer. Scheduled from noon through 5 p.m. for May 28, June 4, and June 11, these events are open to the public at no cost. While organizers do suggest making an appointment, walk-ins will also be accepted.
These events are part of an overarching effort to get more and more of our community vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus as quickly as possible. As such, International Market Place is offering one hour of free parking to those who are being vaccinated. After the first hour, normal validation rates will apply.
If you are interested in pre-registering for an appointment, please click this link. Is is also suggested that participants complete the Queen's registration form to bring with them to their appointment.
If you have any questions about the vaccination events, please do not hesitate to contact our offices at (808) 923-0407.
In related COVID-19 news, Waikiki Bureau Chief Allison Schaefer's latest article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser took a deep dive into the costs associated with the State's testing programs as we are currently the only state in the nation that still requires testing for travelers who have been fully vaccinated. While our geographic location and our reliance on trans-Pacific and international travelers obviously plays into this, it bears mentioning that prospective travelers are finding themselves with more and more destinations from which to choose. It is critical for our overall economic wellbeing that we not price ourselves out of competition and drive visitors to other locales. This is why HB862 is of critical concern to us because, if implemented by the counties, it would make Hawai'i the most expensive leisure destination in the nation.
In this regard, it was especially heartening to hear Gov. Ige indicate during his press conference this afternoon that vaccine passports for trans-Pacific travelers is the critical next step. He further stated that this can be expected over the summer, and we are eagerly awaiting this announcement.
Gov. Ige also announced the immediate lift of the mask mandate while outdoors. This is a positive step, but we must continue to remain vigilant on our properties. Now is not the time to lose sight of our goals.
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