The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is edging ever closer to dissolution, with the state legislature having recently approved a measure that would terminate the organization and transfer its responsibilities to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. This move follows a series of legislative efforts over the past several years to restructure the tourism industry in the Aloha State.
The measure, which was part of a larger bill allocating funds for the state’s tourism marketing efforts, passed the House and Senate last month and has since been signed into law by Gov. David Ige. It calls for HTA, a semi-autonomous government agency founded in 1998, to be dissolved and its duties to be assumed by the aforementioned department.
The move is seen as a significant step in the ongoing effort to overhaul the state’s tourism industry, which has been facing a number of challenges in recent years, including a dip in visitor arrivals, a drop in spending by visitors, and concerns about the industry’s sustainability. The shift in responsibilities is expected to improve coordination between the state’s tourism-related departments and enhance transparency and accountability in the sector.
The dissolution of HTA has been a long time coming. The agency’s governance structure has been a source of contention for years, with some arguing that its semi-autonomous nature has led to a lack of oversight and accountability. In addition, some have criticized HTA for its lack of transparency, with the agency’s budget and spending having been opaque to the public for much of its existence.
With the passage of the bill, HTA’s responsibilities are expected to be assumed by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism by early 2022. The department will be responsible for overseeing the state’s tourism marketing and promotional efforts, as well as its visitor industry research, and will report directly to the governor.
The dissolution of HTA is the latest in a series of steps taken to restructure the tourism industry in Hawaii. The move is seen as a necessary step to ensure the sustainability of the sector, as well as to create a more transparent and accountable system of governance.