Hawaii Tourism Authority survives for at least one more year

After months of uncertainty about the future of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state has come up with a “compromise solution” to fund the tourism organization for the next fiscal year.

The HTA, which manages the state’s tourism promotion, had been at risk of being shut down. Bills were making their way through the Hawaii legislature that would have disbanded the HTA and replaced it with a new entity managed by the state. 

But on April 28, the last day that House and Senate lawmakers were to iron out details regarding the HTA’s fate, conference committee members couldn’t reach an agreement. 

At that time, the state’s budget had left out HTA funding. But Gov. Josh Green said on May 4 that he, the lieutenant governor, leaders from the Senate and House of Representatives and the HTA itself had agreed on funding to keep the HTA going — at least for now. 

“Our legislative leaders worked collaboratively over the last few days to figure out a temporary solution so that HTA can continue to function,” lieutenant governor Sylvia Luke said. “But it was very clear from these discussions that HTA needed to fundamentally change. However, there will be more and more thoughtful discussions that HTA and the visitor industry will have to engage in over the coming months.” 

In the statement, HTA president and CEO John De Fries praised the decision and said the HTA was “thankful” that it would be able to carry on. 

“We understand that our spending will be more scrutinized, and we recognize that we have a lot of work ahead,” he said. 

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