HTA pursues tourism recovery plan for Maui, state

Sep. 19—The Hawaii Tourism Authority board is seeking a contractor to develop a Tourism Recovery Plan that supports Maui and the state in rebuilding the economy following the devastating Aug. 8 wildfire that destroyed Lahaina town.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority board is seeking a contractor to develop a Tourism Recovery Plan that supports Maui and the state in rebuilding the economy following the devastating Aug. 8 wildfire that destroyed Lahaina town.

Prior to the fire, one of HTA's top challenges was finding a way to balance tourism so that meeting the economic needs of communities did not negatively affect their quality of life. Finding that alignment on Maui, where the economy is more dependent on tourism than the other Hawaiian Islands, has grown more critical since the Lahaina fire increased tension between community factions.

The fire destroyed roughly 2, 000 homes and killed at least 97 people, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. The level of tragedy has caused some residents to be reluctant for tourists to come back to West Maui, which has been closed to nonessential travel since the fire. More than 4, 700 people have signed a petition from action network Lahaina Strong urging Gov. Josh Green to delay his plan to reopen West Maui to tourism Oct. 8.

The petition reads in part : "The decision to reopen must not proceed without proper consultation with the working-class families of Lahaina, who have been displaced by the fires. These working-class families, who are the backbone of our community, many of whom also work in the tourism industry, are struggling to find shelter, provide for their children's education, and cope with emotional trauma.

"We firmly believe that before any reopening takes place, it is imperative to consult with and prioritize the needs of these working-class Lahaina residents, " the petition said. "Delaying the reopening will allow for a more comprehensive and inclusive approach that takes into account the welfare and well-being of all West Maui residents and visitors alike."

But the fire also has taken a terrible economic toll. The University of Hawaii Eco ­-no ­mic Research Organization in an Aug. 31 report estimated the loss of revenue in the immediate aftermath of the fire at $13 million a day caused by a three-quarter drop in visitors. Thousands of Maui residents have had to file for unemployment insurance, and many of them and their employers would like to see tourism return to a level that supports stable employment.

In his last address, Gov. Josh Green said, "Many have asked when it will be the right time to reopen West Maui to visitors. There is no easy answer to this question, but I can say that if we support Maui's economy and keep our people employed, they will heal faster and continue to be able to afford to live on Maui."

The contrasting views are why HTA's invitation for bids (IFB 24-05 ) seeks qualified applicants with proven experience in strategic planning and economic development, particularly in tourism and facilitation. HTA said the selected contractor will provide services to support the HTA board's newly formed Disaster Response Permitted Interaction Group, which is focused on Maui's recovery efforts. The contractor also is expected to support "HTA staff in the development of a messaging strategy, a Tourism Recovery Plan, and key learnings and recommendations for future planning."

Mahina Paishon-Duarte, HTA board vice chair and chair of its Disaster Response Permitted Interaction Group, said in a statement : "As we continue to assess the needs of Maui's people and how they envision rebuilding for the future, a Tourism Recovery Plan is critical to supporting Maui's revival and the state's immediate, mid-term, and long-term recovery efforts.

"HTA is working on tourism-related business data with the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism's Research and Analysis Division, which will also guide our efforts."

The HTA board's quest to develop a Tourism Recovery Plan is in addition to its Maui Marketing Recovery Plan, which will run through mid-November. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, HTA's longtime U.S. tourism contractor, will execute the $2.6 million plan, which will use local voices in some segments to invite "mindful " visitors back to Maui.

Daniel Naho 'opi 'i, HTA's chief administrative officer, said in a statement, "HTA continues to work among the community and visitor industry as we support the people of Maui. This Tourism Recovery Plan will correspond with our comprehensive stewardship, destination management, and visitor education initiatives, fostering a more regenerative future for all of Hawaii."

BIDDING ON THE TOURISM RECOVERY PLAN—Responses to the invitation for bids are due to HTA by 2 p.m. Sept. 27. Work will commence on Oct. 2 and will end on Dec. 1.—HTA is issuing the invitation for bids through the Hawaii State eProcurement System (HIePRO ) at Applicants are required to register on HIePRO to submit offers and receive any addenda to the IFB. Inquiries regarding the IFB should be directed to.

Source : HTA