No aloha from Hawaii tourism officials after German shark attack victim dies


Shark attacks of course are bad news when promoting a tourism destination. Is it ok for a Tourism Board to ignore a death of a visitor? ETN Publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, who is also the Chairman of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners, a member of the Export Council (US Department of Commerce) in Honolulu, and President of the private Hawaii Tourism Association didn’t think so. ETN had been waiting for a word of sympathy and a media statement from the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) responsible for promoting tourism to the US State of Hawaii globally, or from Hawaii Governor Abercrombie. ETN contacted HTA to get such a statement without response.

The victim is a 20 year-old au pair, Jana Lutteropp. She died on Wednesday, August 21, after fighting for her life in a hospital on the Hawaiian island of Maui after being attacked by a tiger shark in Hawaiian waters on Maui.

Lutteropp’s death comes a week after a shark bit off her right arm while she was snorkeling on the island of Maui. She was put on life support, but was unable to overcome her injuries.

Juergen T. Steinmetz had found it appropriate to release the following statement while attending the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Zambia.

“All of my colleagues and friends in Hawaii join me in sending our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of the young German victim. As a German-American living in the Aloha State for half of my life, it is a terrible shock to hear such sad news.”

“Hawaii welcomes all of our guests to enjoy our islands in safety and peace. It is hard to believe this has happened.

“I hope our state tourism officials will take extra steps to ensure visitors to our islands are aware of water safety precautions we have in place to protect them.”

“I understand Jana loved her visit to our state and got to enjoy the true spirit of aloha while she was here.”

“Hawaii is a special place and also a safe place to holiday. Shark attacks can happen anywhere. Recently Reunion and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean had deadly attacks among other travel destinations in the world. Tourism officials over there were quick to take an active and supportive lead in not ignoring such an accident. I am disappointed officials in my state feel it was better ignoring this attack. I feel for the family in Germany. This loss must be terrible for them. I was in Germany last week, and the negative publicity for Hawaii was tremendous.

“Showing a little bit of aloha by our State tourism officials, the Governor’s office, or why not from Brand USA as a national US tourism board, would have been appropriate. It may have minimized the PR damage for the Hawaii travel and tourism industry.

“As a resident of Hawaii, I would like to apologize for this. I find it inappropriate and unprofessional by those that were elected or hired to represent our vital Hawaii tourism industry and spend my hard earned taxpayer money to do this. I am sure many fellow citizens in our state may agree with me on this. Tourism is not only our bread and butter, but as human beings we care about our visitors. Showing aloha is the nature of what makes Hawaii special.”