The Hawaii Tourism Authority plans to move forward with its plans to award an expensive contract to market Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, despite not being allocated funding from the legislature for the next two years. The decision was made at a board meeting Tuesday, according to Honolulu Star Advertiser (paywall). The contract is worth up to $51.3 million.
The other contracts the agency plans to move forward with are one for destination management, which is worth $34 million, and another for marketing to Canada, which is worth $2.8 million. All contract winners will be selected on May 22nd. Each contract spans at least two years.
When it comes to funding, the agency has a rough road ahead. Last week, it was left out of the official state budget at the end of the legislative session. It will get funds from money set aside by lawmakers for deferred maintenance projects. Requests for funds will have to be approved by the governor and lawmakers.
The contracting process for the U.S. market has been far from smooth. It’s been delayed by legal disputes, canceled by an outgoing public official and forced to restart.
A major point of contention was the award of the contract to a native community non-profit over Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which has historically won the U.S. marketing contract. Another was that it was combined with destination management under one contract. These moves are part of the agency’s attempts to take a more sustainable approach to tourism that takes resident needs and interest more into account.
The failure to award the contract was one of the reasons lawmakers almost dissolved the agency in the recent legislative session.