Tentative deal reached in dispute over $34M contract to market, manage Hawaii tourism

The two agencies who were fighting for the contract will split it.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 9:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A tentative deal has been reached in the dispute over the $34 million contract to market and manage tourism for the islands, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Under what’s called a tentative and conceptual plan, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau — which has managed the visitor industry’s marketing efforts for more than a century — will continue to handle the industry’s advertising and marketing in North America.

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, which won the contract this summer, will oversee the destination management duties for the Hawaii market. Sources say that will be a big chunk of the contract.

Tourism experts said it’s a fair compromise.

“The HVCB has the expertise and the experience, and more, most importantly, the relationships to do that successfully, as they are currently doing right now,” said Keith Vieira, longtime hotel industry executive and head of K.V. & Associates.

“Hawaiian should have a seat at the table — anything to do with tourism — because it affects our community, it affects our land and affects our culture. So I think it is good that we’re getting more involved.”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority initially awarded the contract to the HVCB last year but the head of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism Mike McCartney later rescinded it.

Then this summer during the backlash surrounding overtourism, the HTA awarded the contract to CNHA.

Advocates for reining in tourism say more has to be done to reduce the impacts.

“I’ve seen the damage it has done environmentally. And we have issues like traffic and parking and just discomfort among our residents,” said Maui City Councilwoman Kelly King.

“We need to get to the point where we’re putting our energy into managing and then and then also putting energy into diversifying the economy.”

CNHA and the HVCB officials declined comment until the deal is finalized.