Longtime Marriott exec Tatum to lead Hawaii Tourism Authority

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The board of directors of the Hawaii Tourism Authority confirmed a new president and CEO of the state agency on Nov. 29.

The board unanimously voted to appoint Chris Tatum, current area general manager for Marriott Resorts Hawaii, who is expected to start in his new position in the next few weeks, according to an HTA statement.    

Chris Tatum
Chris Tatum

The board and HTA staff had been searching for a new agency leader since June, when the board voted to oust former president and CEO George D. Szigeti, whose term concluded at the end of October.

Tatum, selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants, moved to Hawaii as a youth and graduated from Radford High School. He has spent more than three decades in the hospitality industry, mostly in Hawaii and with Marriott.

"Chris Tatum has an ideal combination of qualities, experience and dedication to service that is needed to lead the Hawaii Tourism Authority forward, and the ability to guide the future direction of our state's most important industry in serving the interests of residents on all islands," HTA board chair Rick Fried said in a statement.

Tatum previously served as chairman of both the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association and Oahu Visitors Bureau and was also a member of the Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemorative Committee and 2011 APEC Hawaii Host Committee. He currently serves as chairman of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a difference in my home by developing a sustainable brand strategy that enhances the visitor's experience while preserving our way of life," said Tatum.

Tatum's career in the hospitality industry began as a houseman at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel during his summers home from college at Michigan State University, where he earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management. He returned to the islands and started his career with Marriott as part of the opening team at Maui Marriott Resort & Ocean Club at Kaanapali.

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