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BBB : Hawaii Tourism Authority moved offices to Haleiwa

Hawaii Tourism Authority under new leadership

Linda Hohnholz, eTN  Jan 27, 2011

(eTN) - The current financial situation may have caused the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state-run tourism agency, to move into a private residence on the beautiful North Shore of Oahu and also make eTurboNews publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz its owner.

How does Mr. Steinmetz feel about the Hawaii Tourism Authority moving their operation into his living room? Steinmetz laughed and stated: “It might be a bit crowded, but the view from here is fantastic."

He continued, “I always thought I was president of the Hawaii Tourism Association (HiTA), which is supposed to be a private association that is unrelated to the state agency, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).

"Of course, HiTA is a registered corporation and not a sole proprietorship, but it appears it has vanished altogether, at least as far as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is concerned.”

When doing a search on the BBB information portal, the Hawaii Tourism Association (HiTA), a private organization, the website response was: There are no results for “Hawaii Tourism Association” within HI.

The reason for that was likely two-fold: one, HiTA is not a member of the BBB, and two, according to BBB research it may have taken over the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

A search for Hawaii Tourism Authority reveals the rest of the story:
(eTN copied the listing from the BBB website)

Steinmetz is excited to be the sole owner of HTA and is waiting for the agency’s US$76 million to arrive in his bank account.

According to the BBB, the Hawaii Tourism Authority has added to their business model to directly sell Hawaii as a tour operator and promoter.

The new HTA owner is thrilled at the prospect of even more potential monies coming his way, and wonders if he has to open a trust account, as required for travel agencies. Steinmetz was pleased to find out his newly-acquired agency received a rating of B on a scale of A to F, and has an almost perfect score of 84.00-86.99, based on ratings from 16 business elements.

But seriously, obviously this is a serious mix-up on the BBB’s website, whose slogan is, “Start with trust.”

The BBB states that it does a lot more than help settle disputes. Through the support of their accredited businesses, BBBs work for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating, and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses, and providing information to consumers before they purchase products and services. That is a very worthwhile mission, but now we have to take into consideration that what their organization says about a company warrants further investigation, as its information is not 100% accurate.

Okay, well it does have this caveat of sorts: "BBB’s value to the business community is based on our marketplace neutrality. Our purpose is not to act as an advocate for businesses or consumers but to act as a mutually-trusted intermediary to resolve disputes and provide information to assist consumers in making wise buying decisions. Businesses have supported the BBB for more than 90 years because a trustworthy marketplace is in everyone's best interest." No wait, that wasn’t the part.

Maybe it was this statement: "Learn how your business can help increase public trust in advertising." No, that wasn’t it either.

"BBB OnLine promotes trust and confidence on the Internet." Well, all we can say is that old Latin phrase still rings true: caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

The current HTA listing for the last 36 months:

Hawaii Tourism Authority under new leadership
New HTA millionaire president on his lanai using his mobile phone to manage tourism

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