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Saturday, April 29, 2023
HB1375 deferred: HTA is just a can to kick into the next session
By News Release @ 3:19 AM :: 2199 Views :: Tourism


News Release from Sen Lynn Decoite, April 28, 2023

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Senator Lynn DeCoite (District 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism, issued a statement today regarding the deferral of HB1375 in conference committee:

“Unfortunately, we could not reach a consensus on HB1375. During negotiations, the Senate proposed that the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) continue to exist with a reduced governing board consisting of only nine members and a primary focus on marketing and promoting tourism.

As part of our proposal, we also recommended establishing the Office of Destination Management under the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The primary objective of this new agency would be to engage and involve local communities in destination management planning, which would provide valuable insight and feedback to help guide the state's overall tourism strategy.

Despite the impasse with the House on creating a proposed Office of Destination Management, I am confident that HTA can continue to operate with roughly $30 million of unspent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. I am eager to have further discussions on this crucial issue with HTA and our legislative colleagues in the next legislative session.”

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Hawai‘i Tourism Authority responds to slashed funding

HTH: … HTA President and CEO John DeFries released a statement on the lack of funding late Friday night, just hours after the committee’s decision.

“With the omission of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority from the state budget bill and today’s deferral of HB1375, our work in holistic, integrated destination management, visitor education, and brand marketing is in jeopardy,” he said in the statement….

“We appreciate the Legislature’s appropriation to repair the Hawaiʻi Convention Center roof, and with adjustments to current contracts, we will have funds to keep the lights on and retain our staff of 22,” he said in a statement.

DeFries added that his team and board would need to make “tough decisions in the coming days,” which could include canceling active procurements, contracts, and community work.

“We look forward to working with the Legislature to earn their confidence in our work ahead of next year’s session,” he said to conclude his statement….

read … Hawai‘i Tourism Authority responds to slashed funding

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Deferral of HTA bill could leave agency without funding

SA: … “It’s very unfortunate that HTA didn’t get funded (Friday), but there are a few days left in the session to see if the legislature can resolve this impasse. This was a harsh, but very real message that the legislature has lost confidence in HTA,” Gov. Josh Green said in a statement emailed to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Let’s be clear, tourism is critical to our survival in Hawaii. In the meantime, I have instructed DBEDT to begin work on a plan to keep scaled-down basic operations and marketing at HTA going through the end of the year. In the end, we will work hard to find a collaborative way to balance destination and visitor management with marketing.” …

read … Deferral of HTA bill could leave agency without funding

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Lawmakers defer bill repealing Hawaii Tourism Authority 

Star-Adv April 28, 2023:  …House Bill 1375, introduced by Rep. Sean Quinlan (D, Waialua-­Kahuku-Waiahole) along with other House members, could have repealed the HTA in favor of establishing an Office of Tourism and Destination Management within the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. The change could have taken place as early as July 1, and the new agency would have been governed by a nine-member board and an executive director.

Today’s decision by lawmakers, however, is still likely to result in significant changes to HTA. The deferral potentially leaves HTA and the Hawai’i Convention Center without funding this year as their operational budgets were left out of the final version of a state budget bill earlier this week.

Lawmakers put $64 million into the state budget measure, House Bill 300 CDI, to fix the leaky roof at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. However, failing to fund HTA also could affect the operating budget of the Hawai‘i Convention Center, which typically gets an annual allotment of $4 million to $4.5 million from HTA’s $60 million budget….

HB 1375 was considered the most viable of the remaining options to fund the HTA and the center. Another possible, but perhaps unlikely, funding option for HTA and the Hawai‘i Convention Center is Senate Bill 629, which is slated to be heard at 4:45 p.m. today in Room 225 when a conference committee reconvenes ….

read … Lawmakers defer bill repealing Hawaii Tourism Authority 

KHON: Bill deferred, HTA to continue promoting Hawaii’s brand

TW: Bill to dissolve Hawaii Tourism Authority deferred

HB1375: Text, Status

SB629: Text, Status


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