Fight over tourism money turns threats - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fight over tourism money turns threats

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie has ruffled some feathers with some of his plans in his state of the state speech.  Today a feisty governor didn't back down.  But is he biting the hand the feeds the state by escalating the fight with Hawaii's number one money maker... tourism.

In a live interview on Sunrise the governor expressed his clear disappointment with some hotel executives and their reaction to his idea of cutting the Hawaii Tourism Authority's budget.

"First of all the Tourism Authority doesn't have any money, it's our money. It's Hawaii's money. You see they're always looking at it from the wrong point.  I reached out to those folks.  I'm a little disappointed in some of the reaction there. It's all 'it's about us.' No it isn't. It's about Hawaii. Instead of saying we realize there is a difficulty what can we do to help?  Instead they start trying to threaten. They're going to threaten me; they're going to threaten your job. I mean they picked the wrong guy to start threatening," said Governor Abercrombie.

"I have no idea what he could possibly mean by threatening? I certainly have not been in any meetings where that would be the case. I think the issue is more pointing out the fact that marketing truly is affective and it does have an influence on jobs and this wouldn't be my advice personally because the consequences are not good for everybody but that's not a threat, that's pointing out a state of fact," said David Carey, Outrigger Enterprises Group President & CEO.

The governor wants to take $10 million out of the Hawaii Tourism Authority's $81 million budget.  The money would instead go to basic government services.  But it's been questioned whether it's political considering some hotel executives supported his opponent, Mufi Hannemann, who now runs the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association.

"This isn't out of spite though right?" asked Steve Uyehara during the interview with the Governor.

"No, let me explain what's really going on there because they've been able to fool people, some of these folks. I'm really disappointed because I reached out to them and this reaction is, I think they better take a deep breath," responded Governor Abercrombie.  "What I'm doing is saying we should reallocate funds that are now going to Hawaii Tourism Authority which they are sending back to the community anyway. They're acting like they're doing us a favor. Now that's not the issue at all. When there are things that have to do with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, if there is something that comes out of the Health Department, if there is something they're doing in the area of culture and arts, that should come out of the state foundation or out of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Why should we go through the bureaucratic expense of sending money to the Hawaii Tourism Authority that they give back as if they're doing us a big favor?"

"I don't think it's political I think the election is over and it's time for all of us to get the job done because the people of Hawaii expect nothing less," said Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority President & CEO.

"Politics is strange you know you move on from the past. He's the governor now and we need to support him in trying to do the right thing for the state," said Carey.

You can hear the Governor's complete interview by clicking the video screen on this page. The section regarding the tourism money begins about two and a half minutes in.

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