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Hawaii’s new Tourism Future in Native Hawaiian Hands

John de Fries, CEO Hawaii Tourism Authority

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) is a member-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to enhance the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians.  This council will be responsible for all destination marketing.

The new responsibility of CNHA will be to include coordination, communication, and promote Hawaiʻi for initiatives produced by the community through the Destination Management Action Plans. It also included support services for Hawaiʻi’s official travel website, app, social media channels, and creative content used worldwide for branding and visitor education.

John de Fries is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the State funded Hawaii Tourism Authority. He is the first native Hawaiian person in charge of the largest industry in Hawaii: Tourism.

Once de Fries became president there was zero communication with eTurboNews and many other media.

From a destination responsible for most of the economy, de Fries managed to give his version of tourism on the HTA website saying:

Hawai‘i is adorned with its unique culture and natural landscapes. The warm voice that calls out to visitors is inviting and welcoming. This voice also instructs us to nihi ka hele, to tread softly, so that our travel activities are low-impact, coordinated, authentic, and market-appropriate. In the eyes of the beholder, Hawai‘i is a destination paradise. It is important to educate visitors on how to respect these voices of care and value.

Hawaii Tourism, including marketing the Aloha State is now firm in native Hawaiian hands indicating a 180-degree change to become a destination not based on revenue but on preserving culture.

​Headquartered in Kapolei, CNHA is a Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certified by the U.S. Treasury Department and a HUD-Certified Housing Counseling agency. In the past, CDFI provides access to capital, financial education, and individualized financial counseling services with a focus on low and moderate-income families. CNHA serves as a National Intermediary, providing grants and loans targeting underserved communities in Hawaiʻi.

Now the same organization is in charge of the future of travel and tourism in Hawaii, and how it will be marketed.

HTA issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the United States market on April 15. A list of finalists was determined, and presentations were made to an evaluation committee comprised of HTA, community, and industry leaders.

Even the About statement for the Hawaii Tourism Authority has changed reflecting the native Hawaiian verbiage in stating:

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is the state agency responsible for holistically managing tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with community desires, economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, and visitor industry needs. HTA works with the community and industry to Mālama Kuʻu Home – care for our beloved home

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) mission;

Throughout the year, we celebrate and remember our aliʻi and how their lives and the work they did continue to impact our community.

​Follow along with us as we explore the legacy of our aliʻi across the pae ʻāina.

About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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