HTA: Proposed Legislation Impacting Hawaiʻi’s Tourism Future

April 13, 2017, 2:42 PM HST · Updated April 13, 2:45 PM
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Kahului Airport water feature.
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George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority discussed several legislative bills that he says will impact Hawaiʻi’s tourism future.

As the 29th Legislature enters its final weeks, the bills are now up for review by lawmakers including: House Bill 1471 and Senate Bill 704, as they relate to transient accommodations; and Senate Bill 658, relating to the establishment of a Hawaiʻi Airport Corporation.

HB1471 and SB704 seek to establish a process for collecting taxes from operators of transient accommodations, while SB658 would create a Hawaiʻi Airport Corporation within the State Department of Transportation to develop, manage and operate all State airport facilities.

“In considering the proposed legislation, the quality of the experience and safety for users, both residents and visitors, need to be top priorities during the evaluation process,” said Szigeti.

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“Maintaining the excellence of Hawaiʻi’s brand as a premier global destination is of paramount importance, as our State strives to improve its diversity of accommodations, quality of airports and way of life.”

He continued saying, “We know from a recent study commissioned by HTA that 15% of visitors would not travel to Hawaiʻi if alternative accommodations were not offered, and that these visitors contributed $1.87 billion in spending to the State’s economy last year.”

“Ultimately,” he said, “we need to continually strive toward ensuring that all facets of our tourism industry are making our communities stronger. Alternative accommodations have become essential to Hawaiʻi tourism. As lawmakers determine an appropriate method to collect taxes from operators, there should also be measures in place ensuring guests are being provided with necessary safety information and quality accommodations befitting of Hawaiʻi’s brand, and that users are not disruptive to neighborhoods.”

Szigeti noted that the first place any resident or visitor experiences when flying to and within the Hawaiian Islands are the airports. “We all want the culture, beauty and pride we feel about Hawaiʻi reflected in our airports. It’s imperative we move forward collectively with a strategy for improving our airport infrastructure as expeditiously and efficiently as possible,” he said.

He said that having a world-class airport system is important to residents’ quality of life, vital to the future of the State’s tourism industry, necessary to accommodate new and larger aircraft, and crucial to Hawaiʻi’s brand as a global destination.

“These proposed bills on transient accommodations and our airports can be instruments of change in supporting the future of Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry. We appreciate the analysis and collaboration by lawmakers in determining the proper action for this legislation, but request that the core values of safety and quality of the experience be factored into their assessment and decision-making,” said Szigeti.

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