Hawaii Tourism Authority facing budget cut


The Hawaii Tourism Authority is looking at a potential 5 percent cut in their marketing budget, as it deals with Hawaii’s wilting tourism. That is what is showing in the first draft of their US$71 million budget so far.

State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said: “This particular part of our budget I have grave concerns about. We are in a tourism crisis.” She went on to say that the top priority should be increasing the number of visitors to Hawaii and the amount they spend here.

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According to HTA’s marketing vice president David Uchiyama, the working budget addresses those concerns with a balanced approach of essentially level funding. He stated, “We’re looking for marketing initiatives that break through the clutter and can differentiate us from our competitors.” He added that they are looking at marketing that is more innovative and “out of the box.”

Weinert also disagrees with the plan to spend less in leisure vacation versus business travel marketing for the upcoming year – US$4.5 million less. She said, “If our overall goal is to increase visitor arrivals, it’s going to necessitate additional marketing initiatives.”

The tentative budget allocates 69 percent of funds to marketing and needs to go before the full board for approval.

Budget Committee chairman Vernon Char said he felt keeping a US$3 million reserve will help address Wienert’s concerns.