The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) awarded its lucrative North American brand management and destination stewardship contracts on Monday, announcing the winners of three separate two-and-a-half-year deals worth a combined total of nearly $69 million.
The HTA said in a Monday statement it had awarded its brand management and marketing services contract for the U.S. to longtime Aloha State marketer, Hawaii Visitors & Conventions Bureau (HVCB).
Worth $38.3 million over the next two-and-a-half years and scheduled to begin June 22, the U.S. marketing contract includes not only branding responsibilities for Hawaii’s largest tourism source market, but also “a pre-arrival communications program to educate visitors with specific information about safe, respectful and mindful travel,” according to the HTA news release.
The HTA, meanwhile, awarded its new destination stewardship contract on Monday to the Council For Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), a member-based nonprofit organization that aims to enhance the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians, according to its website.
The destination stewardship contract is worth $27 million over the next two-and-a-half years and is slated to begin June 20, according to the HTA, which said the contract’s responsibilities include everything from post-arrival visitor education to community enrichment programs as well as assisting community organizations and local businesses with different solutions to manage tourism hotspots.
The HTA also said on Monday that it had awarded its $2.4 million brand management and marketing services contract for Canada over the same period to VoX International. That deal is scheduled to begin June 30.
"These three awards are made possible by a collaborative effort between the state Administration and the Legislature to secure funding for HTA, which we deeply appreciate,” John De Fries, the HTA’s president & chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Despite multiple legislative efforts made by Hawaii lawmakers earlier this spring to dissolve the HTA entirely, and no dedicated funding allocated for it in this year’s state budget, the HTA announced a last-minute deal earlier this month with Hawaii governor Josh Green to fund the state agency, which is responsible for managing tourism marketing in the Hawaiian Islands.
Who would ultimately be awarded the lucrative U.S. brand management and marketing contract had, meanwhile, been an unusual saga over the past 18 months. HVCB was initially awarded the contract in December of 2021, but then lost it in late spring 2022 to CNHA, following a protest made by CNHA. HVCB filed its own protest later last summer, which subsequently resulted in state officials deciding to launch an entirely new contract Request For Proposal (RFP) process that wrapped up today for the two separate deals — one for marketing and one for destination management.
The HTA also said Monday that Hawaii state law allows for a protest period for all three of the contract awardees it announced today that will extend no later than June 14 this year, after which the contracts would be finalized.