Hawaii Tourism Authority elects top officials

HONOLULU -- The newly created 13-member Hawaii Tourism Authority began putting the state's new tourism structure in place.

At its first meeting, it elected John Reed, chairman of Duty Free Shoppers of Hawaii, chairman, and Diane Quitiquit, director of research and development, Hawaii County (Big Island), vice chair.

The volunteer group also established a committee of three of its members to search for an executive director who will be the authority's only paid staffer.

Selection committee members are Keith Vieira, Starwood Hotels; Shari Chang, Castle Resorts, and Roy Tokujo, Cove Marketing.

Another priority of the authority is to sign a contract with the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau to market the state for the second half of the fiscal year, Jan. 1 to June 30.

For the fiscal year starting July 1, it will be free to choose how it will contract for marketing.

Legislation establishing the authority also provides the state with a dedicated source of tourism funding for the first time.

Starting Jan. 1, the authority will receive 37.9% of collected hotel room tax revenues (the room tax increases from 6% to 7.25% Jan. 1).

State tourism funding will more than double, from the current $25 million to almost $60 million.

The authority replaces the previous tourism marketing structure in which the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) contracted annually with HVCB to market Hawaii.

The authority will not have to lobby the Hawaii Legislature each year for money, and dedicated funding will allow for strategic planning and long-term marketing.

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