Hawaii Tourism Authority finally under experienced leadership

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Tourism leader Chris Tatum  may very well be the most important person in the US State of Hawaii. The largest industry in Hawaii is tourism, and even if someone is not employed in that industry, it remains everyone’s business.

The state agency in charge of tourism is the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), and since January 1 of this year, Chris Tatum has taken over as the Chief Executive Officer and President of the HTA replacing George Szigeti who took over from predecessor Mike McCartney. Tatum is the former Vice President for Marriott International with responsibility for the portfolio of resort hotels in the Hawaiian Islands. He had a dual role as the Market General Manager for the 1,310-room Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

This is a distinguished difference between those that were in charge of HTA prior to Chris Tatum. The previous CEOs were politicians, while Chris is a businessman, and tourism is a business. In Hawaii, it’s the biggest and most important business, so this new leader is a good move for Hawaii tourism.

eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz caught up with Mr. Tatum in his office yesterday and found that this new leader has brought a different atmosphere to HTA. Within weeks of taking over at the helm, it was evident a new chief was in charge.

Tatum told eTN: “I cannot predict tourism, so in my press releases you won’t find predictions and assumptions. I pledge to share facts in a timely manner but don’t expect me to have a crystal ball.

“When I was with Marriott Hotels, my job was to have the hotel booked at all times. I know this is very different when running the state agency of tourism.”

On the question of over-tourism he said: “We cannot tell airlines to fly or not to fly to us, but we can influence cutting available illegal vacation rentals resulting in high rent and availability of accommodation in neighborhoods like the North Shore or Kailua that shouldn’t be there, because it causes what we all know as over-tourism.”

“I am for a hands-on approach,” Tatum said when referring to the recent influx of marketing dollars for the island of Hawaii. Tatum agreed with Steinmetz’ statement that there is Hawaii the state and there is Hawaii the Big Island – they are two different products and should be marketed differently.

Read the full article at hawaiinews.online.

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