Hawaii Tourism Authority Awarding $3.5 Million to Support 124 Hawaiian Culture, Natural Resources and Community Programs in 2018

In keeping with its commitment to foster sustainable tourism in the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is providing funding of more than $3.5 million to 124 programs that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture, protecting natural resources and showcasing community events in 2018.Recipients of the funding are nonprofit groups, community organizations and individuals statewide who have demonstrated through proposals submitted to HTA their dedication to strengthen the enduring qualities of Hawaii’s legacy that distinguish the islands as a place to live and visit.

“Sustainable tourism starts at the community level and that’s the focus of our support for initiatives by groups and individuals who have pledged to make Hawaii a better place for future generations,” said George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO. “Collectively, these community-based programs will help manage tourism’s impacts by preserving the quality of life we treasure as residents through culture, the environment and the sharing of festivals and events ingrained in the traditions of Hawaii’s people.”

Funding is being provided to recipients on all islands for usage in 2018 as part of three HTA program categories: Kukulu Ola, Aloha Aina and Community Enrichment. HTA issued a request for proposals on June 21 with submittals from qualified applicants received by August 4.

  • A total of $1,240,000 is being awarded to 33 recipients that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture through HTA’s Kukulu Ola program. Awardees include community groups, practitioners, craftsmen, musicians and artists committed to strengthening a broader understanding and appreciation of Hawaiian culture through place-based activity engagement. Founded on the value of ma ka hana ka ike (in working one learns), the Kukulu Ola program assists recipients steeped in ike Hawaii to share within communities the Hawaiian values inherent in each respective practice.
  • A total of $1,150,000 is being awarded to 26 recipients that are helping to protect Hawaii’s natural resources through HTA’s Aloha Aina program. Focused on the lasting value of stewardship by responsible community-based entities that emphasize aina-kanaka relationships and knowledge, the Aloha Aina program supports efforts to manage, conserve and revitalize Hawaii’s natural resources and environment.
  • A total of $1,153,300 is being awarded to 65 recipients through HTA’s Community Enrichment program, which supports quality experiences created by communities to be shared with residents and visitors for their enjoyment. The Community Enrichment program invests in a diverse array of festivals, events and year-round programs in support of culture, education, health and wellness, nature, agriculture, sports, technology and voluntourism.

Click here for the listing of awardees receiving funding from HTA.

Mauna to Mauna Ultra Happening Now on the Big Island of Hawaii

Endurance Events USA is pleased to announce the inaugural edition of the Mauna to Mauna Ultra, which is happening now on the Big Island and will continue until May 20, 2017. This unique event is a 6-stage, 7 day, self-supported footrace, covering a cumulative distance of approximately 155 miles (250 km). The race is open to runners and hikers.

The 155-mile course route which began at Coconut Island in Hilo, winds through 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, and finishes at Hapuna Beach. The course is taking participants up the world’s most massive mountain (Mauna Loa) and part way up the world’s tallest mountain (Mauna Kea), hence the name of the race: Mauna to Mauna. Participants are climbing more than 16,000 feet over the course of the race.

The field of participants from all over the world has come together for this challenging event, assuming the responsibility of carrying their own backpacks containing food, sleeping bag, mat and other mandatory equipment for the week.

Participants could elect to compete as individuals or teams. Participants were expected to possess basic outdoor survival skills such as familiarity with outdoor gear and backpacking. However, they were not required to possess any technical navigational or climbing skills to take part in the Event. Entrants from 20 countries are participating.

The event is sponsored by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau and the County of Hawai‘i.

Please visit the event website at www.m2multra.com for more information. Follow the event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mauna2mauna.


Joint Statement on Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Audit

After reviewing testimony submitted on SR 27 and SCR 72, it is clear to both Senator Glenn Wakai (S Dist. 15 – Kalihi, Mapunapuna, Airport, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Foster Village, Hickam, Pearl Harbor), Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology and Representative Richard Onishi (H Dist 3 – Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano), Chair of the House Committee on Tourism, that there is overwhelming support for an audit of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), with the duplicative nature of the proposed audit and the additional cost to perform the audit being the only points of contention.By law, the Office of the Auditor is required to audit HTA “at least every five years.”  The Office of the Auditor last audited HTA in 2013.

“It was never my intention nor that of Chair Onishi to subject HTA to unnecessary scrutiny or to incur unreasonable costs.  The resolutions were introduced to maintain public trust in HTA management and fiscal responsibility of our largest economic driver,” said Sen. Wakai.

“We have asked State Auditor Les Kondo to consider reporting his audit findings and recommendations to HTA and the legislature in early 2018.  The Auditor will provide an independent, objective, and nonpartisan review of HTA’s performance, including its management and expenditures of state funds.  Given the importance of tourism to our state, the audit will provide accountability to the legislature and the public that HTA is using its resources, including state funds, effectively, efficiently, and ethically to achieve its mission.  We are confident that the Auditor’s review will address the objectives set out in SR 27 and SCR 72, making it unnecessary to pass these resolutions,” said Rep. Onishi.

NELHA and Hawaii Tourism Authority Receives President’s “E” Award

Today in Washington, DC, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in awarding two ‪#Hawaii companies—Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and Hawaii Tourism Authority—the President’s “E” Award.


The “E” Award is the highest honor the United States Government can give to an American exporter and export service provider. Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority and Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority were two of 123 U.S. companies and organizations recognized at today’s ceremony.

This year marks the 54th anniversary of the “E” Awards presentation. For the first time in the award’s 54-year history, winners represent every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. Of this year’s 123 honorees, 105 are small and medium-sized businesses, and 64 firms are manufacturers.

In 1961, President Kennedy created the “E” Awards to recognize companies supporting the expansion of U.S. exports. The President’s “E” Award recognizes persons, firms, or organizations which contribute significantly in the effort to increase United States exports. The President’s “E Star” Award affords continuing recognition of noteworthy export promotion efforts. More information on the awards can be found at: http://export.gov/exportawards/

Miki Wakai Joins Hawaii Tourism Authority as Tourism Brand Manager

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, has hired Miki Wakai as a tourism brand manager.

Miki Wakai

Miki Wakai

Wakai will be overseeing Hawai‘i’s largest international market, Japan. She will work collaboratively with the HTA’s contractor, Hawai‘i Tourism Japan (HTJ), to ensure that marketing efforts are in line with the HTA’s strategic plan and drive demand and revenue for the state of Hawai‘i.

“Miki will be a tremendous asset in working with the Japan market and we are pleased to have her join our team,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “Her experience will be valuable as we look at innovative ways to grow this mature market and reach two million Japanese visitors by 2016.”

Prior to joining the HTA, Wakai worked at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club overseeing the marketing and sales office in Hawai‘i while reestablishing its presence in Seoul, Korea. She was also responsible for identifying and marketing to potential customers visiting from Japan, Korea and the U.S. mainland for time share opportunities. Wakai received a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies from Hawai‘i Pacific University.

Established in 1998, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency, is responsible for strategically managing tourism to optimize benefits for Hawai‘i that integrates the interest of visitors, the community and visitor industry. Tourism is our state’s leading economic driver and largest employer and the HTA continually works to ensure its sustainability well into the future. For more information on the HTA, please visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@HawaiiHTA).

Lt. Gov. Tsutsui to Lead New Sports Development Initiative

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today appointed Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui to spearhead the state’s Sports Development Initiative, which aims to coordinate efforts throughout Hawaii to build a thriving sports industry.

Shan Appointed

“This initiative will help to expand sports entertainment and participation opportunities in Hawaii, while also strengthening our visitor economy – particularly during the shoulder seasons when visitor arrivals are less robust,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “With Shan at the helm, we hope to take advantage of each island’s unique characteristics and bring athletic events that fit into their individual environments.”

While collaborating with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, University of Hawaii System, Stadium Authority, and private sports organizations, the initiative will identify, promote and engage opportunities to establish Hawaii as a premier sports destination for professional, amateur and youth athletics. The improvement of current facilities and development of world-class, state-of-the-art venues are also part of the initiative, intended to attract sporting events and athletic training opportunities not only on Oahu but throughout the state.


In addition to positive media exposure and awareness, professional sporting events have contributed well over $100 million to the state’s economy each year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

“With this Sports Development Initiative, we have the opportunity to diversify our visitor industry and generate more revenue for our state,” Lt. Gov. Tsutsui said. “Everyone can benefit from this initiative – from keiki to kupuna. They will be able to either participate in or attend a variety of sporting events.”

“With this Sports Development Initiative, we have the opportunity to diversify our visitor industry and generate more revenue for our state,” Lt. Gov. Tsutsui said. “Everyone can benefit from this initiative – from keiki to kupuna. They will be able to either participate in or attend a variety of sporting events.”

Through this initiative, community involvement and outreach will expand with more mentoring, camps and clinics to develop young athletes using unique concepts, utilizing teams, players and participants. It will also encourage active lifestyles and improve the health of keiki and adults


Hawaii Tourism Authority Announces New Clients for China and Taiwan Markets – WHO Is JWI Marketing?

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, today announced the selection of Travel Link Marketing (TLM) and JWI Marketing (JWI) to provide destination representation services in the China and Taiwan markets respectively. Both companies will be responsible for promoting leisure and business travel to Hawai‘i.

Travel Link Marketing

TLM, a Chinese marketing company founded in 2005, has offices in Beijing, Shanghai,

Guangzhou and Chengdu. It has established an extensive network with thousands of tour operators and media outlets throughout China. TLM also owns Travel Link Daily, a well-recognized online traveltrade publication. Taipei-based JWI specializes in marketing representation, public relations, media creative development and distribution, event planning, promotions and more. They are a marketing firm with more than 120 employees in Taipei, Taiwan.

“We are excited to partner with TLM and JWI,”said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “Both Mainland China and Taiwan have become important markets for Hawai‘i’s tourism economy with tremendous growth potential.  With the commitment and expertise of these two companies, we’re confident they will be able to further cultivate these emerging markets for Hawai‘i.”

The HTA’s current contractor, Aviareps Marketing Garden, will manage the China and Taiwan contract through Dec.31, 2013 with TLM and JWI’s contract commencing Jan. 1, 2014. Aviareps Marketing Garden has represented Hawai‘i in China, Taiwan and Korea since 2004, and will continue to manage the Hawaii Tourism Korea contract from Jan. 1, 2014.

“We want to extend a sincere mahalo to Aviareps Marketing Garden for promoting Hawai‘i as a premier destination for leisure and business travel in China and Taiwan. Their hard work and contributions to Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i’s visitor industry has helped to elevate Hawai‘i’s presence in the two regions,” added McCartney.


Hawai’i Tourism Authority Announces New Tourism Brand Manager

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, has hired Laci Goshi as a tourism brand manager.

Laci Goshi

Laci Goshi

Goshi will be overseeing Hawai‘i’s core North America market, including the U.S. and Canada. She will work collaboratively with the HTA’s contractor for North America, the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) to drive demand and ensure marketing efforts are in line with the HTA’s strategic plans.

Prior to joining the HTA, Goshi was the contract sales manager at Aqua Hotel & Resorts where she helped to promote and market the 23 hotels on six of the Hawaiian Islands. She was also the sales manager at the Pacific Beach Hotel where she worked directly with wholesalers in the U.S., Canada and Australia markets.

“We are pleased to welcome Laci to the HTA ‘ohana,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “She brings a wealth of experience in the visitor industry and marketing the Hawaiian Islands to the North America region.”

Angela Rodriguez, the former brand manager for North America, is the HTA’s new communications and tourism brand manager, responsible for developing strategies to provide the community, industry partners, key stakeholders and government officials with a better understanding and appreciation of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry.

Established in 1998, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency, is responsible for strategically managing tourism to optimize benefits for Hawai‘i that integrates the interest of visitors, the community and visitor industry. Tourism is our state’s leading economic driver and largest employer and the HTA continually works to ensure its sustainability well into the future. For more information on the HTA, please visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@HawaiiHTA).

Volcano Art Center Introduces Summer Sunset Hula

“Hula Arts at Kilauea” program erupting in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Volcano Art Center is about to turn up the heat at Kilauea Volcano. Starting this Friday, May 24 and running monthly through August, “Sunset Hula” performances by Halau Kahula O Nawahine Noho Pu`ukapu will light up the pa hula (stone platform) near the VAC Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Sunset Hula

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanos, has been continuously erupting lava and thrilling visitors and park staff following a major activity surge in March 2008. A vigorous, towering plume of volcanic gas churns out of Halema’uma’u Crater throughout the day and as the sun sets, the plume’s reflection of the lava glowing below sets the twilight sky on fire. This nightly occurrence draws a huge audience to the best viewing areas surrounding the Jaggar Museum, where the fiery phenomena can be enjoyed with all five senses.

Four evenings this summer, Volcano Art Center (VAC) aspires to enhance the lava glow experience by introducing a special hula performance just before sunset. The following dates and times were chosen specifically for their closeness to the full moon cycle and actual sunset: May 24 at 6:00pm, June 21 at 6:00pm, July 26 at 6:30pm, August 23 at 6:15pm.

Sunset Hula3

Hula is widely recognized as one of the most treasured elements of Hawaiian cultural heritage. VAC has made an intentional effort since 1980 to perpetuate the ancient art of hula kahiko, welcoming an extensive variety of halau (troupes) and kumu hula (teachers) to share their dramatic portrayals of hula through dance, oli (chant) and mele (song).

“We are thrilled to have the dancers of Halau Kahula O Nawahine Noho Pu`ukapu performing under the direction of kumu hula Ana Nawahine Kahoopii,” states Julie Callahan, VAC’s Hula Program Coordinator. “Their movement is pure poetry come to life.”

Sunset Hula

This inspired outdoor presentation will take place rain or shine, and the audience is encouraged to bring a sitting mat, dress in warm, layered clothing, and come prepared for inclement weather. Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service should call (808) 967-8222 or email julie@volcanoartcenter.org.

“Sunset Hula” is the latest addition to VAC’s expanding “Hula Arts at Kilauea” program, supported in part by the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. All events are free, though donations are welcome and park entrance fees apply. For more information on Hula programs through Volcano Art Center, visit volcanohula.com.

Volcano Art Center (VAC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1974 to develop, promote and perpetuate the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii’s people through the arts and education.


42nd Annual Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races August 30 through September 2, 2013

The 42nd Annual Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races starts Labor Day holiday weekend, Friday August 30 through Monday September 2, 2013. The world’s largest long distance canoe race is organized and hosted by Kai Opua Canoe Club, started 1929 in Kona. The Queen’s Race attracts 6-person crews from Hawaii, all throughout the U.S. and international crews from as far away as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Tahiti and United Kingdom.

Kai Opua Header

The 2013 Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races include the signature 18-mile long distance single hull 6-person canoe race for men and women crews; 6-mile men and women Wa‘a kaulua (double hull canoes) races;  stand-up paddleboard races including a stock 3.5 mile course and an unlimited 4.5 course sponsored by Hulakai, surfing Hawaii since 1963, OC1-man, OC2-man and Teen long distance canoe races.

Back for its fourth year is the Ali’i Challenge, blend of Survivor and Amazing Race, that includes a paddling distance of almost 17.5 miles followed by each crew of 12 negotiating a land course. Other Queen’s Race events include Walking Tour of Historic Kailua Village, International Paddlers Night, Torch Light Parade through Historic Kailua Village, Ocean lifestyle street fair, Queen Lili’uokalani Awards Ceremonies and a traditional Hawaiian Luau.

The 42nd Annual Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races is sponsored by Hawaii Tourism Authority, Queen K Tesoro, Steinlager, Seven Tiki Spiced Rum, OluKai and Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

For detailed race information, course maps or to register online for the 2013 Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races, log onto www.kaiopua.org

54th Annual Hawaii Island Billfish Tournament Information

This iconic big game fishing tournament built on prestige and strict International Game Fish Association (IGFA) rules for world records starts fishing on August 3rd and continues through August 10, 2013 in Kona, Hawaii.

Blue Hawaii

For five days, teams fish the famous waters off the Kona coast aboard some of the finest sport fishing vessels with captains who have built reputations around the world for catching big fish. Prized and powerful Pacific blue marlin are caught or tagged and released along the Kona coast every day. Occasionally, these famous waters produce a grander, a term known as a Pacific blue marlin weighing in at over 1,000 pounds. HIBT is headquartered on Kailua Pier where spectators see plenty of scoreboard action as teams weigh in at the end of the day, putting valuable points on the scoreboard. Kailua Pier is also a great place to watch the Tournament start each morning as boats line up across Historic Kailua Bay at 7:30 a.m, returning to the pier at 4:30.

Fishing action in Kona is expected to be hotly contested this summer. HIBT teams are expected from Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Vanuatu and from across the USA. All eyes will be on Old South Marlin Club Team 4 (North Carolina) who captured the 2012 win and the coveted HIBT Governor’s Trophy. This team’s cumulative total of 3,150 points ended up in the HIBT history books with the highest winning HIBT score since 2008. In fact, the Old South Marlin Club Team 4 score now ranks as the third highest since the tournament began in 1959.

HIBT event headquarters, retail and tournament control will once again be anchored at Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, located adjacent to Kailua Pier. The public is invited to come to the Kailua pier and watch the boats line up across Historic Kailua Bay as fishing starts each day sharply at 7 a.m. At 4pm, boats return to Kailua pier with their team and catch.

The Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is underwritten by the generosity of the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The tournament is further supported in part by KWXX Radio and numerous corporate and community donors.

For more tournament information, including IGFA world records, rules, and 2013 HIBT entry information, log onto www.hibtfishing.com

State Takes Proactive, Collaborative Approach to Possible Boeing Strike

The House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, in conjunction with the Committees on Labor and Tourism, held an informational briefing regarding a possible engineer strike at the Boeing Company and the potential impact, if any, it may have on the State of Hawaii.

Legislature Logo

CPC Chair Angus McKelvey headed a panel that included Reps. Derek Kawakami, Mark Nakashima, Tom Brower, Romy Cachola, and Gene Ward. The panel was rounded out by Ray Goforth, Executive Director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and Jeannine Souki of the Airlines Committee of Hawaii.

The SPEEA, which represents the personnel involved in the labor dispute, and Boeing are at odds over a new wage and benefits package. Boeing’s first offer was overwhelmingly rejected and the SPEEA has expressed significant concerns with the latest proposal. The next vote will be on February 15th and if the two sides do not agree, the SPEEA could possibly go on its third strike in history.

Among some of the possible issues discussed at the briefing were what effects, if any, the disruption could have on Aircraft On Ground support services, the impact the strike in 2000 actually had on the visitor industry, as well as the percentage of Boeing aircraft in the airline fleets that serve the state.

“I was pleased to see the HTA and the airlines in close communication to ensure that our visitors to Hawaii will have the confidence that their travel experience will be as seamless and enjoyable as possible,” said McKelvey. “Our proactive course of action will hopefully result with Hawaii being in a position to see as minimal disruptions as possible to our visitor industry, should this come to pass.”



Mechanical Incidents on Boeing Aircraft and Possible Strike Lead Hawaii Legislature to Meet for Informational Briefing

Boeing Informational Briefing


WHAT: The House Committees on Consumer Protection and Commerce, Labor, and Tourism will be holding a joint informational briefing in response to the recent mechanical incidents of Boeing aircraft and the possibility of a labor strike.

WHEN: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol, Conference Room 325

WHY: The recent mechanical incidents and possibility of a labor strike at Boeing has raised a number of potential concerns for the State. Contingency plans to mitigate any impacts on the islands – to include reduction of routes to less trafficked airports, alternative avenues for freight traffic, and the impact of a reduced flight schedule on tourism – will be among the topics of discussion.

WHO: The panel will include House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Angus McKelvey, Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Ray Goforth, Executive Director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), members from the House Committees on Consumer Protection and Commerce, Labor, and Tourism. Representatives from Boeing and members of the commercial airline industry servicing Hawaii are also invited.


Kumu Hula Ehulani Stephany Featured in Traditional Hula Performance at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Volcano Art Center welcomes Halau Hula Ka Makani Hali ‘Ala O Puna to upcoming Na Mea Hawaii Hula Kahiko

Each month the Volcano Art Center (VAC) celebrates the traditions and art of hula through “Na Mea Hawaii Hula Kahiko” performances in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Halau Hula Ka Makani Hali ‘Ala O Puna, under the direction of Kumu Hula Ehulani Stephany, will grace the pa hula with their awe-inspiring style of Hawaiian dance and chant on Saturday, September 15, 2012.

Halau Hula Ka Makani Hali ‘Ala O Puna under the direction of Kumu Hula Ehulani Stephany

Since 1980, VAC has held the responsibility and privilege of inviting hula schools from all over Hawaii to perform at the stone hula platform, which is reserved exclusively for the perpetuation of traditional hula and chant. For cultural practitioners, an offering of hula in the presence of Halema’uma’u crater at the summit of Kilauea, the legendary home of the volcano goddess Pele, is especially inspiring.

For the hour-long outdoor performance starting at 10:30am, the audience is encouraged to bring mats for sitting on the grass and be prepared for variable weather conditions. On the same day, traditional Hawaiian arts and craft demonstrations will be held on the front porch of the Volcano Art Center Gallery from 9:30am to 1:30pm. Demonstrations include hands-on displays and lessons where all ages are invited to meet, learn from and talk story with friendly and knowledgeable locals.

Na Mea Hawaii Hula Kahiko is a free community event presented in cooperation with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and supported in part by the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. As park entrance fees apply and parking is limited, carpooling is strongly recommended. For more information, visit www.volcanoartcenter.org or call (808) 967-8222.

Hawaii Tourism Authority Presents its 2012 Legacy Awards

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, presented the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace with its 2012 Tourism Legacy Awards, in recognition of both organizations’ established lifelong efforts in perpetuating the Hawaiian culture and sustaining a “legacy of aloha”.

Daughters of Hawaii

“As the only state with a monarchy history, the dedicated efforts of these organizations to recognize Hawai‘i’s ali‘i and their legacy is a testament to the vital importance of historical preservation for Hawai‘i,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “Mahalo and congratulations to the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace for their commitment and dedication in honoring, preserving and perpetuating the Hawaiian culture and history. Their work is important to our community, our residents, visitors and future generations.”

At yesterday’s Hawai‘i Tourism Conference, the HTA’s 2012 Tourism Legacy Awards were presented to:
The Daughters of Hawai‘i is a nonprofit organization founded in 1903 “to perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawai‘i and of historic facts, and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language.” The Daughters are one of the first organizations in Hawai‘i to recognize the importance of historical preservation. The organization owns and maintains the Queen Emma Summer Palace, the Hulihe‘e Palace and the site of Kamehameha III’s birth at Keauhou Bay in Kona on Hawai‘i Island. Through their collective efforts, the Daughters of Hawai‘i conserved these significant historical sites for generations of locals and visitors.

The Friends of ‘Iolani Palace was established “to preserve, restore, interpret, share and celebrate the unique cultural, historical, and spiritual qualities of ‘Iolani Palace and its grounds for the benefit of native Hawaiians, the people of Hawai‘i and the world.” Designated as a national historic landmark and as the only royal palace in the U.S., ‘Iolani Palace embodies Hawaiian cultural heritage and offers genuine opportunities for residents and visitors to experience our host culture.

The Tourism Legacy Awards, evolving from the Keep It Hawai‘i program, was established by the HTA to honor individuals, organizations and businesses that perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and traditions. Honorees have worked diligently to nurture the host culture creating respectful and authentic visitor experiences while securing bonds between the visitor industry and the Hawaiian community. Previous honorees included the late Dr. George Kanahele and the Bishop Museum.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is a state agency established by law in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry and tourism economy in the state of Hawai‘i. As the state’s tourism authority, its mission is to strategically manage tourism to optimize benefits for Hawai‘i, integrating the interests of visitors, the community and visitor industry. Through the implementation of the statewide Hawai‘i Tourism Strategic Plan and HTA’s own strategic plan, the authority works to direct Hawai‘i tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with our economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, community desires, and visitor industry needs. For more information on the HTA, please visit

Record Turnout for 3rd Annual Volcano Rain Forest Runs

This past Saturday was an especially beautiful day for a run. The 3rd annual Volcano Rain Forest Runs on August 18, 2012 was blessed with sunshine and smiles for all the miles of the Half Marathon, 10K and 5K races held in Volcano Village on Hawaii’s Big Island.

A generous display of aloha from the crowds of spectators and volunteers helped propel the record-setting 590 racers across the finish line, especially Pahoa’s own Billy Barnett who finished first in the Half Marathon with a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 21 seconds.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the turnout or more thankful for everyone’s incredible support,” says Volcano Art Center CEO Tanya Aynessazian. Registration increased nearly 20% over the 495 total finishers in the 2011 Rain Forest Runs.

“I am filled with gratitude,” Aynessazian says, and extends special appreciation and sincere thanks to Race Director Sharron Faff, the board members and staff of VAC, the Volcano community, The Cooper Center, the Volcano Community Association, GU, Kona Marathon, Eddie O. and Lava 105.3, Leilehua Yuen and Manu Josiah, the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Kilauea Lodge, Barefoot Wine, Rotarians of Hilo Bay, Pahoa Sunset and Volcano, the Keaau High School Cross Country Team and the many, many volunteers who helped make this event possible, positive and fun for everyone.

Race results and photos are posted at www.rainforestruns.com with special cheers for these top finishers:

  • Half Marathon: Billy Barnett (1:19:21, M 20–29, Pahoa) and Amy Gordon (1:38:25, F 30–39, Waialua)
  • 10K: Chris Gregory (:36:25, M 20–29, Hilo) and Keri Ogden (:42:56, F 20–29, Honolulu)
  • 5K: Todd Marohnic (:19:30, M 50–59, Volcano) and Shayli Nakamoto (:22:31, F 14–19, Kealakekua)

The next Volcano Rain Forest Runs is already set for August 17, 2013. Volcano Art Center – a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created in 1974 whose mission is to promote, develop and perpetuate the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii through the arts and education – invites you to learn more about how you can support the arts and your community at www.volcanoartcenter.org.

Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Pualu Awards Winners

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) recently recognized nine individuals, businesses or organizations with Pualu Awards at its annual Installation and Membership Banquet at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

“Meaning to “work together,” Pualu Awards were established in 1979 to honor those in West Hawai ‘i for their dedication and hard work in the community,” explains Vivian Landrum, Chamber president/CEO. There were nine winners in seven categories and they were chosen by an awards committee from nominations received by Chamber members and the general public.

The Community Education award honors an individual or organization that promotes and supports education and enrichment programs that develop personal skills and lifelong learning. This year’s recipient is Laurel Gregory.

Gregory serves as the sole librarian for our West Hawai‘i Community College and in that capacity she has turned the library into a student friendly, welcoming resource center that encourages both on-campus and distance learning students to expand their educational opportunities.

In addition, Gregory has been a member of the Kona AAUW – American Association of University Women—and has been instrumental in this group’s support of two programs for continued education: Women in Transition and GEMS, Girls Exploring Math and Science. Through Gregory’s efforts, access and interest in higher education on Hawai‘i Island has been increased.

The Environmental Awareness Award taps an individual or organization that exhibits sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practices and is awarded to Lipps & Son – General Contractor.

As a result of the March 2011 tsunami, extensive damage was done to the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Restoration required not only environmental understanding but cultural sensitivity as well. As this area is recognized as an historical site, it presented dual challenges in the renovation.

Lipps & Son’s team consulted with experts on environmental issues, cultural practitioners, families from the area, as well as state and county officials. They ensured the renovations not only exhibited sensitivity and concern for the environment, but also preserved its unique historical features.

The Business Innovation Award recognizes a business or organization that is committed to improving or enhancing employee’s lives, or exhibits creative product development, marketing or customer service. Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory and West Hawaii Community Health Center each received this award.

One of two Pualu Business Innovation recipients was Bob and Pam Cooper of Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, with KKCC President/CEO Vivian Landrum (left) and Chair Debbie Baker (right).

Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory (OHCF) is the first company in the state to both grow and make chocolate and they are lauded for their innovative vision, ingenuity and delectable chocolate. Finding no commercial equipment to process only an acre of cacao beans, Bob and Pam Cooper of Keauhou fashioned their own and now produce excellent, small-batch chocolate. Building on that success, they taught other Big Island residents how to grow cacao, resulting in 30 additional growers. They also offer a plantation tour for visitors to see their orchard and factory operations.

OHCF has developed a local and global market for selling their milk, dark and criollo chocolate as the first commercial, tree-to-bar chocolate company in the state. Their chocolate is sold at over 60 statewide locations and used by local chefs.

The other Business Innovation recipient was West Hawaii Community Health Center, with WHCHC Executive Director Richard Taafe accepting (center).

West Hawaii Community Health Center is a not-for-profit whose mission is to provide quality health services to all, regardless of income. Since opening, the center has increased its patient visits, from 2,200 in 2005 to over 32,000 in 2011.

To do this, WHCHC more than doubled its square footage in Kailua-Kona and hired more providers, opened the Keiki Health Center in Kealakekua, obtained an emergency adult dental van, which is parked at Kailua-Kona’s homeless shelter; and took health screenings and education into the more remote areas of West Hawai‘i, starting with Miloli‘i. This month, WHCHC will add adult care to the Kealakekua Health Center to better serve families in South Kona and will open the West Hawai‘i Community Health Center in Waikoloa to serve families in South Kohala.

The Lifetime Service Award taps an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to the community exemplified by their personal and/or business achievements. This year’s recipient is Virginia Isbell.

Lifetime Service Pualu Award: From left: Vivian Landrum, KKCC president/CEO, Lifetime Service recipient Virginia Isbell and KKCC Chair Debbie Baker

A wife, mother, teacher, leader, mentor, public servant, volunteer—each of these nouns describes Isbell.  She served in the state legislature for 16 years and then on the County Council for two more years. Isbell advocated for affordable housing and spearheaded the campaign to get state land for the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery .  She has served as an officer and director of Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club, helped initiate the West Hawaii County Band, (and played with them for 33 years), worked to obtain and improve the Girl Scout Camp on Hawai‘i Island and serves on the Kona Crime Prevention Committee.

Dedicated to making things better in our community, Isbell demonstrates excellence in her ability to identify problems, develop solutions, bring together strategic partners and stay committed until positive results are achieved, offering tireless service to Hawai‘i Island.

The Visitor Industry Marketing Award is presented each year to that person or group who diligently works to promote the visitor industry in West Hawai‘i. Congratulations to Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club’s Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Race.

Promoting the visitor industry is a beautiful and beneficial by-product of this organization’s event.  For the past 41 years, the Annual Queen Liliu’okalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Race has brought attention and visitors to Kona. Recognized as the world’s largest long distance canoe race, this Labor Day weekend event welcomes more than 2,500 paddlers from around the globe. The race partners with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Hawai ‘i to extend and leverage its world-wide appeal. This event highlights the state’s official team sport of Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing and includes additional cultural aspects such as a craft and ocean fair, torch lighting parade and “talk story” cultural walk through historic Kailua Village.

The Culture & Heritage award is awarded to an individual or organization that has exhibited, through its actions, practices that promote island traditions and preserves our multi-cultural heritage. This year’s recipient is the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa for celebrating and promoting the Hawaiian culture in a respectful, deep-rooted way.

Taking the model of cultural programs several steps further, the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa has made Hawai‘i’s culture core to its operations. Recognizing the importance of cultural revitalization and that the Hawaiian culture is what differentiates Hawai‘i from other tropical destinations, this resort offers, not only the “expected” cultural activities, but more. It has created Kaukulaelae Land & Sea Historical tours, including the opportunity to board a traditional Hawai‘i sailing canoe and learn the history and legends of the coastline; and the Lekeleke Cultural walking tour. Residents are encouraged to enjoy these tours and they are free.

Chamber Business of the Year: From left: Vivian Landrum, KKCC president/CEO, Rebecca Villegas accepting for recipient Kona Brewing Company and KKCC Chair Debbie Baker

Chamber Member of the Year recognizes the individual who advocates, promotes and supports the mission of KKCC through active participation on committees, events, membership and/or community service. This year KKCC honors two recipients:  a Chamber Business Member of the Year, Kona Brewing Company, and a Chamber Individual Member of the Year, Hazel Beck.

Kona Brewing Company not only strives to lessen its environmental impact, but aims to make a noticeable difference in our community. KBC continually donates product and merchandise to benefit local schools, non-profit organizations and county agencies—and KKCC is one of those recipients. KBC donates to the Chamber’s annual golf tournament, monthly AfterHours and Bid for Hawai‘i online auction. Without KBC’s continued generosity, Chamber events would not be as well received, successful or as popular as they are.

The Chamber Member of the Year has committed time, energy and more than her fair share of sweat equity to support the efforts of our Chamber. Hazel Beck, of the Hawai‘i Small Business Development Center, joined the Chamber in 2008 and immediately established herself within KKCC by volunteering as a resource for programs and serving on the education and later government affairs committees.  She was elected to serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors in 2011. Beck was instrumental in producing KKCC’s first Economic Summit and she continues to chair and drive two of its resource groups.

County of Hawaii, Hawaii Tourism Authority and Friends of Hawaii Charities Award Needed Funds to Volcano Art Center

Rain showers are nothing new for the Big Island’s Volcano Village, but for one local nonprofit, fresh grant funding has been pouring in along with all the wet weather. Volcano Art Center (VAC) has recently been awarded three new grants to expand their education, outreach and forest restoration programs.

Hawaii County has just approved VAC’s request to create a Hawaii Island Network of Artists (HINA) economic impact report and website, awarding $21,250 to help fund the undertaking. Particularly strong in arts administration, including sales, education and promotion, VAC is already positioned to research, promote, perpetuate and document the expanding community of artists throughout Hawaii County.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) states in their 2008 report, Artists in the Workforce, that the State of Hawaii ranks #3 per capita of the 50 states with fine artists and craftspeople. According to their report, nearly 15 of every 10,000 residents is an artist.

“Given our involvement with this community, we are certain Hawaii Island has far more than 270 visual and fine artists,” reported VAC CEO Tanya Aynessazian. “Our research will provide the County and State with the documentation they need to promote Hawaii as an arts destination, directly benefit local artists and enhance our island economy.”

Hawaii’s state tourism agency, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), awarded VAC with a $35,527 grant to continue the Volcano Rain Forest Restoration and Education project that has been active since 2006. The funding enables VAC to serve as stewards of the Niaulani Rain Forest, a 5.5 acre old-growth native forest in Volcano Village that makes up most of the land on which the organization houses its administrative campus.

Preserving the forest for future generations requires VAC to assume the unending responsibility of controlling about 30 non-native plants. They have smartly involved community volunteers in ongoing restoration efforts and service learning opportunities, and offer free guided tours on Mondays and Saturdays to bring even more awareness to this rare Hawaiian treasure.

VAC will soon be offering a Youth Media Arts program thanks to another grant of $5,000 awarded by Friends of Hawaii Charities. Funds will be used to purchase equipment for an open Media Arts Lab, and to provide classes, courses and workshops in digital photography, storyboarding, storytelling, camera and film basics, and filmmaking. Intended for youth ages 5 to 19, technical aspects of photography and video production will be taught with an emphasis on how media enhances education, awareness and community.

Volcano Art Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created in 1974 whose mission is to promote, develop and perpetuate the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii through the arts and education.

HVCB, MPI Team Up to Showcase Hawaii Island to Meeting Planners – Sustainability is Key Theme of Four-Day Conference

This weekend 30 meeting planners are coming to Hawaii Island from throughout the nation to take part in a first-time educational conference and experience the qualities that make the Hawaiian Islands a premier destination for business meetings.

The hosting of the Hawaii MPI EduFAM conference, June 9-12, is the result of a partnership secured by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) with Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the meetings industry’s largest trade organization.

The meeting planners, who collectively book group programs worth tens of millions of dollars annually, will do site tours of Hawaii Island resorts and meeting facilities, experience activities, learn about Hawaii’s cultural diversity, and take continuing education courses.

In addition, Hawaii industry suppliers, including resorts and service providers, will meet with the planners to discuss opportunities for future group bookings. Most of the planners are also extending their stays to conduct site tours of Kauai, Oahu, or Maui.

“We look forward to welcoming the meeting planners from across the U.S. to showcase the Hawaiian Islands as an ideal place to conduct business,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).

“Planners will be able to experience first-hand our world-class facilities, one-of-a-kind destination and the aloha spirit of our people. The HTA, together with the HVCB, remain committed to marketing the Hawaiian Islands as a premier global meetings destination and growing our meetings, conventions and incentives (MCI) market.”

The importance of cultural and environmental sustainability will be a key theme of the conference and is being communicated daily with presentations by a native Hawaiian cultural advisor. The planners will also take part in a corporate social responsibility (CSR) volunteer project in support of Kukaiau Forest on the northern slopes of Mauna Kea.

The conference’s featured presenters are Bruce MacMillan, CEO of MPI, and Paul Salinger, vice president of marketing for Oracle. MacMillan will make a presentation on the state of the meetings industry, while Salinger will lead the workshop, “Best Practices for Sustainable Meeting Management.”

Michael Murray, CMP, CMM, CASE, HVCB’s vice president of sales and marketing, noted the conference will be a superb showcase for Hawaii Island while reinforcing the state’s business brand as a site for hosting meetings and conventions.

Murray commented, “We are very grateful to MPI for bringing this education conference to Hawaii and allowing us to create a meeting experience offered nowhere else in the world. The meeting planners taking part represent the diverse interests of organizations and third-party providers who are exactly the kind of groups that would find doing business in Hawaii rewarding and productive.”

Murray added that the conference’s focus on sustainability is building on the principals conveyed during Hawaii’s successful hosting of the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting (APEC). Hawaii entities making innovative advancements in clean energy, as well as ocean, earth and sky sciences, and health and life sciences, were showcased during the APEC conference.

“Hawaii is a recognized leader in being sustainable and preserving our natural resources and this conference will continue to highlight the importance of that message and how it can be integrated into the overall meeting experience,” said Murray.

Based in Dallas, MPI has more than 21,000 members representing 86 countries in 71 clubs and chapters, including Hawaii’s Aloha Chapter, making it the largest meetings industry trade organization in the world.

HVCB is contracted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state of Hawaii’s tourism agency, to provide marketing management services for the conventions, meetings and incentives market segment. HTA was established in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawaii tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with the state of Hawaii’s economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs.

Vendors Invited to the 17th Annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agricultural Festival

Local food producers are invited to display and sample their product at the 17th annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agricultural Festival on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

The state’s premiere ag showcase again offers a free trade show for Hawai‘i farmers, ranchers and food producers to hookup with Taste attendees. Called the Agriculture Festival, the expo coincides with the 6-8 p.m. Taste of the Hawaiian Range.

The Agriculture Festival provides a venue for food producers to present their products to participating chefs and attendees. The expo is also open for agricultural and sustainability-themed organizations to present informational displays.

Producers interested in participating may contact Amy Shimabukuro-Madden at 808-974-4107 or 410-933-0853 or amysanae@hawaii.edu. The signup deadline is July 30. Those interested in having an educational display may reach Victoria Vrooman at 808-640-4492 or vvrooman@hawaii.edu.

Taste will headline more than 30 statewide chefs who will dazzle diners using various cuts of forage-fed meats and a cornucopia of island fruits, vegetables and other farm products. Also on tap is a 3 p.m. culinary activity, “Grass Fed Beef Cooking 101,” presented by James Babian, executive chef at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.” Follow Taste of the Hawaiian Range on Facebook or on Twitter, #TasteHI.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, encouragement and support of locally produced ag products. The premiere ag-tourism event is a partnership between CTAHR, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Kulana Foods, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management and community volunteers. Sponsorship also includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii County Research and Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program and KTA SuperStores.

The quality and growth of this event are rooted in small business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations. For more information, visit http://www.TasteOfTheHawaiianRange.com.