The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has released a request for proposals for cruise development consultation services and hopes to sign a contract around Oct. 1.
“Maintaining and growing access to the state is key to the success of our tourism economy, and cruise ships provide visitors with a different means of traveling throughout and experiencing the Hawaiian Islands,” HTA President and CEO George D. Szigeti said in a statement.
The state is seeking someone with a “credible level of knowledge related to itinerary planning and cruise development” who can represent the HTA in meetings with cruise lines that sail to Hawaii or have the potential to do so. The successful applicant also will attend annual cruise industry meetings and conferences sponsored by Seatrade and the Cruise Lines International Association.
Hawaii’s efforts to grow cruise business is constrained by U.S. passenger shipping laws that prohibit foreign-flagged cruise ships — as most are — from operating exclusively between U.S. ports without calling at a foreign destination. Few passengers ships are registered in the U.S. because they must be built in this country and carry an American crew.
This is why most companies offering Hawaii cruises sail to and from West Coast ports such as Vancouver and San Diego or schedule brief calls at Ensenada, Mexico. For example, Holland America Line plans to operate a seven-day Sept. 20 voyage from Vancouver to Honolulu and a 17-day Nov. 26 “Circle Hawaii” round-trip from San Diego.
When asked if the HTA favors relaxing the U.S. cruise laws or how it could grow despite such limitations, Szigeti responded with the prepared statement: “Despite restrictions of the Jones Act, the law does not regulate against all cruise business to and between the Hawaiian Islands. In order to enhance our viable cruise market, the Hawaii Tourism Authority issued a request for proposals for cruise development consultation services to explore opportunities for growth in this area. The HTA will continue to monitor the Jones Act and other legislation that may impact our visitor industry.”