by Donald Wood
on April 21, 2023 Last updated: 10:10 AM ET, Fri April 21, 2023
Tourism Authority (HTA) is fighting against a pair of bills that would
remove the current leadership group and fold the organization into the state government.
Hawaii’s State Senate and House are considering two
proposals, SB1522 and HB1375, that would repeal the law that originally established
the HTA. The move would also result in a shakeup on the board of directors and fold
the organization into the State Department of Business, Economic Development
and Tourism (DBEDT).
HTA President and CEO John De Fries believes the changes
would result in a new structure that would fund programs supporting destination
management, community events, Native Hawaiian culture, natural resources and
brand management, all of which are currently handled by the organization.“Twenty-five years ago, HTA was created primarily to take
the politics out of the industry, and the repeal of HTA in many ways is an
attempt to restore that,” De Fries said.
With hundreds of community-based programs and groups supported
by the HTA and destination management work underway on each island, tourism officials
are concerned about the unintended consequences of the legislation being
considered.The HTA revealed the state would lose an estimated $14
million in funding if Hawaii’s State Department hands the responsibility to DBEDT,
as the new group would need to reapply for funding through a year-long
application process, causing significant delays to current plans.
“The Hawaii Tourism Authority has important work to do,” De
Fries continued. “Changing the name and cutting and pasting the current
statute, which enables HTA to exist, is not a solution.”HTA is proud to support sustainable tourism practices like the Maui Nui Resource Council’s Reef Friendly Landscaping Program which seeks to restore soil health to save Hawai‘i’s ocean reefs. Mahalo @HawaiiNewsNow for spotlighting this program. Watch the video below to learn more. pic.twitter.com/dHEucjHJmQ
— Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) (@HawaiiHTA) April 19, 2023Other potential issues raised by the HTA include no
guarantee of future funding to sustain community-based programs, the change in
leadership halting destination management progress and funding uncertainty
leading to more destinations enticing travelers away from Hawaii.For the latest travel news, updates and deals, subscribe
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Appeared first on: travelpulse.com