May is Tourism Month: We All Contribute to Hawaii’s Tourism Economy
The following Op-Ed from Mike McCartney, President and CEO, Hawaii Tourism Authority, ran on Sunday, May 6 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Tourism in Hawaii is more than an industry. In addition to being a leading generator of jobs, it serves as a bridge for economic diversification and is responsible for our quality of life in Hawaii.
Tourism is on pace to support more than 166,000 jobs annually and contribute $37 million daily into our economy in 2012. These out-of-state dollars support kamaaina businesses, create new industries and help our counties to improve roadways and beautify parks. These monies also support Hawaii Tourism Authority programs that celebrate, perpetuate and sustain our unique place, people and diverse cultures.
All of us are directly or indirectly part of Hawaii’s hospitality industry. When we stop to give visitors directions, share with them a recommendation on where to eat, interact at a festival or sports event, or smile in warm greeting, we all contribute to sharing our aloha spirit.
The thousands of men and women who directly work in Hawaii’s hospitality industry provide world-class service to Hawaii’s guests–from the moment a visitor steps off the plane at the airport, arrives at their hotel, walks into a shop, and visits an attraction, until their departure. They work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, including holidays, to ensure each of the millions of visitors who come to the Hawaiian Islands have a memorable experience.
To each and every one of you, we say mahalo. You are the heart and soul of Hawaii’s tourism economy and truly make the Hawaiian Islands a special place to live and to visit. All of you help to sustain Hawaii.
With everyone working together, our future remains bright. We must all continue to work diligently and collaboratively to remain competitive in the global marketplace and also maintain a balance between the needs of our community, hospitality industry and visitors.
We need to continue to engage our youth and provide education and career opportunities so they can live in Hawaii, and along with their values, be part of the next generation of Hawaii’s hospitality industry. We also need to malama our aina and invest in events like our month long music festival Mele Mei, the Merrie Monarch Festival, and the Hawaiian Islands Invitational soccer tournament, as these are examples of the unique experiences that set us apart from other destinations.
In the past year alone, we have seen growth in airlift from cities such as Shanghai, China; Fukuoka, Japan; Washington D.C., and New York City. This is an exciting time, and we will continue to strategically manage and build on this momentum to ensure that air seat availability matches demand from existing and new markets, especially from Asia.
As an island state, securing air seat capacity and maintaining the distribution of air seats to all of our major islands is a crucial element to sustaining Hawaii’s overall economy. It enables leisure and business visitors to travel directly to various islands, dispersing the benefits of tourism, and also provides residents with increased opportunities to experience the world and connect with family and friends, in addition to supporting commerce and economic activity throughout the state.
As we recognize National Travel and Tourism Week, and locally, we celebrate May as Tourism Month, we are grateful to the people of Hawaii, like you, for your hospitality and contributions to our tourism economy.
Living aloha is Hawaii’s gift to the world and it is everyone’s kuleana. Together, we must remember that it is the people and our place that define us and make Hawaii so special. Let’s work together and continue sharing our hospitality and aloha with the rest of the world.