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HTA: Proposed Funding Cuts Will ‘Severely Hamper’ Tourism Industry

April 9, 2018, 11:28 AM HST · Updated April 10, 11:57 AM
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Executives with the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority say its travel marketing initiatives and programs “will be severely hampered” if House Bill 2010 SD2 becomes law.

Maui island. Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Tor Johnson

The bill amends the allowable uses of a special fund for convention center operations and maintenance, and adds a cap on the amount of money deposited into the fund.

On Friday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended the bill for passage on third and final reading, and a 48-hour notice was posted for April 10, 2018.

HTA president George Szigeti called the affects of the bill “devastating” and says it will force the tourism association to make significant cuts to its marking programs that support the state’s number one industry.

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Those in support of the bill say far less state money should go towards increasing tourism when the islands are already overburdened.  Supporters say Transient Accommodation Tax funds should be re-directed to address more pressing needs like environmental, housing, and quality of life problems.

George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO issued a statement today saying:

“Misinformation is being circulated that attempts to downplay the devastating effects that HB2010 SD2 will have on HTA’s tourism marketing if this bill is passed into law. Make no mistake, HTA will be forced to make significant cuts to its marketing programs that support Hawaiʻi’s number one industry, and the people who will feel it the most are those whose jobs depend on tourism continuing to do well.”

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“HB2010 SD2 is completely unnecessary, it is counterproductive to what is best for tourism’s future, and it puts Hawaii at a competitive disadvantage to other global destinations that have far greater resources to fund their marketing efforts.”

Szigeti noted HTA’s staff is applying the recommendations from the audit report on HTA issued in February by the State Auditor to improve its operations, internal processes and training of employees. A plan of action for implementing the audit’s recommendations was prepared by HTA’s staff and approved by the board of directors at its March 29 board meeting.

Szigeti says the 21 recommendations for improvements identified in the report are currently being executed by HTA’s management and staff and targeted for completion by the fourth quarter of this year.

“We are utilizing the State Auditor’s recommendations to become a better and stronger organization, which ultimately helps us to support the continued wellbeing of Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry,” said Szigeti.

“Last year, Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry generated record high totals of $16.78 billion in visitor spending and $1.96 billion in state tax revenue, while also supporting 204,000 jobs statewide, the most ever. We are committed to continually strengthening tourism and maintaining its success for the good of Hawaiʻi.”

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