Updated: October 3, 2023
The state house of representatives, Committee on Finance passed the stateʻs budget bill on Wednesday. House Bill 300 includes a $35 million appropriation to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority–thatʻs $40 million less than what was requested.
HTA President and CEO, John De Fries said the lack of funding will cause significant across-the-board cuts that will impact operations, destination management and visitor education programs.
The budget bill is still making its way through the legislature and is expected to crossover to the Senate next week.
De Fries said the the limited budget is cause for “extreme concern.” He said that in addition to programs that the HTA supports in communities markets around the world, its funds are also used to support cultural events, festivals, and sporting events.
He said the limited funds come at a time when there is an anticipated softening of the global economy with potential impacts on Hawai‘i as forecasted by the Council on Revenues and University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization.
“To continue our progress and implementation of our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and Destination Management Action Plans, we requested an operating budget of $75 million for fiscal year 2023-2024 and $60 million for fiscal year 2024-2025 and beyond,” said De Fries in an email update.
“We will continue to work with our legislators to demonstrate the importance of having a well-funded, comprehensive program for destination management and visitor education to serve the people of Hawai‘i,” he said.