Workforce Development

A skilled and competitive workforce is essential for a successful visitor destination.

Workforce Development

Encouraging Hawai‘i’s high school and college-age students to choose tourism as their career is an important part of HTA’s mission.

Sustaining tourism success depends on the young people of Hawai‘i helping carry the industry forward and becoming the next generation of leaders. HTA is helping support programs that show Hawai‘i’s youth they can have a career where their energy, insight, and opinions are needed to help move the state forward.

HTA supports the L.E.I. (Leadership, Exploration, Inspiration) Program on O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and the Island of Hawai‘i, which brings 1,000 teens from throughout the state in direct contact with hotels, businesses, and tourism industry leaders. In the program, the future engages the present.

HTA also offers support with certification and training programs to help elevate the current industry workforce development through the University of Hawai‘i’s community college system.

Providing a Pathway for Hawai‘i’s Youth

The HTA has partnered with the Department of Education’s (DOE) Career & Technical Education (CTE) program to support career pathways.  Launched in 2020, HTA is supporting training of teachers in hospitality service training, and providing high school students with Service Excellence Certificate of Achievement certificates.  The curriculum was exclusively developed in partnership with ClimbHI and the School of Hotel Administration at the Cornell SJ Johnson College of Business, one of the leading hospitality administration programs in the world, for the DOE’s CTE program.

The HTA has also partnered with ClimbHI, a local non-profit organization to inspire Hawai‘i’s youth to pursue careers in the Hawai‘i visitor industry through the LEI (Lead, Expose, Inspire) Program. LEI is an annual statewide event held every April comprising of inspiration and leadership through guest speakers and Hawaiian culture and hospitality training, site visits to a lodging property for an overview of the lodging sector including a dining etiquette piece for lunch, and an afternoon career fair to expose students to the variety of career options and opportunities in the visitor industry. LEI 2021 will be done virtually with the same objective of inspiring Hawai‘i’s youth to have seek a career in Hawai‘i’s visitor industry.

HTA is also supporting ClimbHI’s Bridge, which is an online portal to connect businesses and educators with opportunities ranging from guest speaking/guest teaching, mentorships/advisory boards, job shadowing/teacher externships, project-based learning, career fair participation, site visits, and more. For more information, visit:

Hawai‘i Tourism Hooilina Scholarships

Hawai‘i Tourism Hooilina Scholarships are awarded to college-bound public Hawai‘i high school seniors based on demonstrated academic achievement, leadership skills and an expressed interest in pursuing a hospitality, tourism or culinary education and career; or community college students who are Hawai‘i residents, graduated from a Hawai‘i public high school, completed their associates degree in hospitality, tourism, or culinary, and are transferring into the junior academic school year.  The purpose of this scholarship is to support kids raised in Hawai‘i to have an executive management level career in our visitor industry.

In Spring 2020, eight Hawai‘i public high school seniors who selected to major in the tourism/hospitality/culinary field were awarded four-year full-tuition scholarships to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoas School of Travel Industry Management at Shidler College of Business. Two Hawai‘i public high school seniors were awarded four-year full-tuition scholarships to the University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu’s Business Administration Division.  One community college student was selected to receive a two-year scholarship to the University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu’s Business Administration Division.

Providing Training Opportunities for Hawai‘i’s Workforce

To address industry’s changing needs in workforce training, the HTA has also worked with educational institutions to make training available for the current workforce to help enhance service skills and quality.  HTA has partnered with University of Hawai‘i’s Kapi‘olani Community College, Maui College, Kaua‘i Community College, and Hawai‘i Community College to reinforce customer service industry standards and expectations.  The community colleges offer trainings to obtain a certificate of professional development in customer service in Hawai‘i in addition to a certification for Hawai‘i’s professional tour guides.  For more information on the program visit here.

HTA sponsored the Campaign for a Safer Community, an initiative to combat sex trafficking in partnership with Hoola Na Pua, a Hawai‘i nonprofit working against sex trafficking.  The group says sex traffickers often take advantage of the privacy and anonymity accessible through the hospitality industry. Four symposiums were held across the state in November 2019.  The half-day symposiums were aimed at empowering Hawai‘i’s visitor industry management, but everyone who wants to take a stand against trafficking was welcome to attend.  A little over 300 from the visitor industry and community attended.  If you are interested in training your organization on this issue, please contact Hoola Na Pua.

The HTA provides support to the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) to bridge the gap between the Hawaiian community and the visitor industry. NaHHA offers cultural training and consultation to individuals and organizations to learn and incorporate Hawaiian culture, values, and traditions.  Click here for more information.


Visitor Industry Workforce Needs Assessment

HTA has commissioned Anthology Research to conduct an assessment of the current and future workforce needs of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry and related sectors. The initiative is a part of HTA's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, supporting our community pillar to build a resilient visitor industry workforce and community. A final report was received and is available by clicking on this link: Visitor Industry Workforce Needs Assessment 

According to HTA's Destination Management Action Plans (DMAPs), stakeholders value the importance of having an official state-wide tour guide certification program in the state of Hawai'i. Nevertheless, different stakeholders view functions and values of current Certification for Hawai'i’s Professional Tour Guides Program differently. In consideration of moving to a formal licensing program in the future, HTA, through the partnership with the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) and the University of Hawaiʻi School of Travel Industry Management, conducted a landscape analysis to explore strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with current program offerings.

Access the final report here: Study of Formulation and Implementation of a Formal Licensing Program in
the Future

Maʻemaʻe Toolkit

To help market Hawai‘i authentically, browse through a resource of Hawaiian language tools, style and information guides, cultural activities and festivals, and other pertinent information.

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Partnership Opportunities

HTA's Global Marketing Team offers a variety of consumer, travel trade, and MCI marketing opportunities. Partnership opportunities include digital and social media marketing, public relations, travel trade, and meeting sales programs.

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