HONOLULU--The Hawaii Tourism Authority, an 11-member volunteer unit
mandated by the state legislature, should continue to use the
Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as its sole marketing
contractor, the head of the HVCB said.
In a speech at the bureau's annual membership meeting, Tony
Vericella, bureau president and chief executive officer, said the
proposed authority should not parcel out marketing contracts to
more than one vendor, even though it will be allowed to do so.
As reported, new legislation more than doubled state tourism
funding to between $55 million and $60 million a year using an
increase in hotel room taxes as a dedicated source of funding.
Vericella said the additional money will allow Hawaii to compete
on a global level for the first time. He noted that the new
authority could contract its marketing programs to as many
organizations as it wants.
However, "if it does that, marketing will be fragmented and it
will be a backward step," he told 1,200 people attending the
meeting at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. "There needs to be one
marketing organization," he added.
The HVCB and the industry have long pushed for a dedicated
source of funding that would eliminate the need for lobbying for
money each year. The bureau--a nonprofit, private group--has been
contracted by the state to promote tourism since statehood in
So far, there has been no move by other organizations to take on
some of the role of the HVCB, but the new system poses many
questions. The authority's volunteer members--60% of whom must have
tourism experience--will be chosen by the governor.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority and increased funding will come
into effect during a transition period. The hotel room tax will
increase from 6% to 7.25% on Jan. 1, with about a third of the
money collected going to the tourism authority.
The HVCB will continue to conduct marketing for the state
through June 30--later if the authority decides. It will receive
$25 million in state funding for fiscal year 1998-99, which began
on July 1, the same amount as in 1997-98.
However, the HVCB estimates it will get additional monies from
the room tax during the second half of the fiscal year 1998-99,
bringing its total state funding to between $36 million and $39
The tourism authority, with an executive director and staff,
will assume many functions of the state tourism office, which has a
handful of employees and is part of the state Department of
Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
Also, responsibility for arrival statistics, now undertaken by
the HVCB, will go to the authority.