Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 15, 2005

$69.2M tourism budget gets OK

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer


Programs to preserve Hawai'i's natural resources will receive $2 million from the Hawai'i Tourism Authority this year, twice as much as the authority gave last year.

The money is part of a $69.2 million budget approved by the HTA yesterday covering the fiscal year that began July 1. Because of projected higher hotel room tax collections for this year, the HTA was able to budget about $5 million more for its programs.

The bulk of the budget — $50.13 million — is earmarked for marketing, an increase of about $1.2 million. That includes $6 million to market the Hawai'i Convention Center (same as a year ago), $4.5 million to support the NFL Pro Bowl (down from $5.3 million last year) and $2.3 million for PGA Tour golf tournaments (up from $2.2 million).

The HTA also plans to spend $1.5 million on Hawaiian culture initiatives — more than double what it spent last year — including $500,000 each for Native Hawaiian festivals and the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association.

"We believe that this budget takes into account a whole lot of things in the community ... that make Hawai'i a better place to live, (and) if you have a good place to live, you'll certainly have a good place to visit," said Rex Johnson, HTA president and chief executive.

"It was always envisioned that HTA's primary responsibility was marketing. But as they were able to grow the pie — and HTA has had a good year from a tax collection standpoint — they would get into more of these types of things that reflected other problems or other issues that needed to be dealt with in the community."

Other highlights of the budget include the following programs, which all received increases from the past year:

  • $1.6 million for visitor greeting programs at Hawai'i's harbors and airports, such as music.

  • $1.5 million for major festivals.

  • $700,000 for the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, which assists visitors in trouble, and safety programs.

  • $500,000 for workforce development, including a high-school training program for students interested in a career in the tourism industry.

    Also yesterday, board members re-elected John Toner, Ko Olina Resort Association executive vice president, to another term as board chairman, and elected Douglas Kahikina Chang, Hotel Hana Maui general manager, as board vice chairman.

    Ronald Yamakawa, executive director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, joined the board as a non-voting member.