HVCB now must compete

HONOLULU -- Hawaii's new tourism structure is a major departure from previous practice.

The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, which dates to 1903, must now compete for the business.

Without a bid process, the HVCB had been under contract, renewed each year,

to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) to market Hawaii.

In this transition year,

HVCB has a one-year contract with the Hawaii Tourism Authority that ends Dec. 31.

The new structure also includes a new way of funding tourism marketing -- the state's hotel room tax. A law passed last year increased the room tax from 6% to 7.25%, effective Jan. 1. Of the tax collected, 37.9% -- between $55 million and $60 million per year -- goes to HTA.

HVCB's budget from HTA this year is $45 million. Last year, its state funding was $25 million, with the amount, as in previous years, decided by the legislature.

Without a dedicated source of funding, and with the legislature controlling the purse strings, much of HVCB's efforts were spent on lobbying.

HVCB's responsibility includes both global and meetings and convention marketing, which for 2000 is split into two contracts.

DBEDT now provides the staff for HTA.

On Jan. 1, DBEDT took over the responsibility for compiling visitor arrival data, previously undertaken by HVCB.

HTA has 11 voting members appointed by Gov. Ben Cayetano.

They include Keith Vieira, Starwood's vice president and Hawaii operations director; David Carey, Outrigger Hotels chief executive officer, and Peter Schall, managing director, Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Two members are with airlines: Gilbert Kimura, regional sales manager, Japan Airlines, and Ron Wright, managing director, sales and marketing, Continental.

HTA has two ex officio members, the directors of DBEDT (voting) and the Transportation Department (nonvoting).

Diane Quitiquit, director of research and development, Hawaii County (Big Island), is chairman.

Robert Fishman was appointed HTA chief executive officer in March.

He was vice president of airport services for Hawaiian Airlines since May last year.

Before that Fishman was managing director of the City and County of Honolulu.

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