Breaking: Hawaii's Marketing Pivots To Native Hawaiians

Breaking: Hawaii’s Marketing Pivots To Native Hawaiians

A huge change is afoot in Hawaii’s marketing as the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) tonight pulled its long-standing 20-year marketing contract from the Hawaii Visitor And Convention Bureau (HVCB).

The new multi-year marketing contract has been awarded to an organization that is a member-based non-profit. Its mission is “to enhance the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians.” The group is The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA).

HVCB has had the contract for Hawaii marketing for many years. HVCB reached out tonight with this statement:

“The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority notified us this afternoon that we have not been awarded a new contract for the U.S. Leisure market. Our current contract expires 6/29/2022.

We are extremely disappointed in the outcome and we are reviewing the appropriate course of action. This in no way is a reflection on the work we have done together to steer a new course – Mālama Ku‘u Home.

As a 501(c)(6) member based organization, we will continue to serve Hawai‘i’s tourism community and residents. In addition, HTA has confirmed that our existing contracts with Global MCI (Meet Hawaiʻi), Destination Management Action Plans and the Island Chapters will remain in full force.

Controversy surrounding Hawaii marketing, HTA and HVCB is years-old. In March, the contract for the next five years of marketing was abruptly pulled from HVCB.

We recently offered information about the history of the two groups. “HVCB can track its history back to 1902 when Hawaii was a territory and a group of businessmen under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants Association began promoting tourism. It’s had several name changes over the years: Hawaii Tourist Bureau (1919), Hawaii Visitors Bureau (1945), and Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (1996). The first contract with the state was in 1961 when funding changed from private business to a mix with state funds. It became completely state-funded in 1999 by the newly established HTA.”

The role of the CNHA will include both brand marketing and visitor education on the U.S. mainland and in Hawaii. The contract is set to be in effect from this month through December 2024, or longer.

CNHA will be responsible for the official Hawaii travel website, related apps, its social media efforts, and other creative content.

It comes as Hawaii tries to navigate controversial visitor destination management and marketing plans. Those call for attracting and educating visitors in new and different ways, including protecting the environment and much more.

It was never clear why why the HVCB proposal was rejected. But something happened. Even in March it was rumored that the issues would be resolved between HTA and HVCB. That didn’t happen.

Hawaii’s state research arm and HTA at odds.

UHERO, the UH research arm for the State of Hawaii, remains critical regarding new Hawaii tourism plans. We said previously that, “among other things, there is concern that HTA’s controversial plans tend to marginalize tourists, while at the same time not having the backing of the state or the authority needed to ever be implemented.”

UHERO pointed out that “until now, the State’s policy toward tourism has been to accommodate its growth. With HTA’s new [plans]… that is about to change!”

BOH: This signals a huge directional change for Hawaii marketing.

It is too soon to say what the impact of the new Native Hawaiian marketing partner will be. It is also unclear to what degree they will operate independently of HTA in their marketing efforts and what any continuing time of HVCB might be. 

In addition, HVCB is none too pleased about this change, and we don’t think we’ve heard the last of it. It isn’t exactly clear who is going to be in charge of what. And when it comes to the visitor offices on the islands, for example, those have been HVCB offices. So what happens to them and is that a contract HVCB retains?

For now, congratulations to CHNA. We look forward to learning more about their plans and sharing more with you about this as it develops.

12 thoughts on “Breaking: Hawaii’s Marketing Pivots To Native Hawaiians”

  1. In this mornings Advertiser…..
    The HTA, and now CNHA, have been charged with producing results, and supporting a healthy, thriving Hawaii, with well-cared-for public spaces and infrastructure, robust economic opportunities and effective environmental stewardship. Should this new consortium move the needle toward this ideal, it will be a welcome transformation indeed

  2. I welcome the change. Agree with other comments that aloha has gone away with too many tourists and a different demographic visiting the island more prevalently.
    Respect to locals and residents alike has diminished far too much and I hope there is a true change.
    Thank you again gentlemen for a great article

    1. Hi CHris.

      Thanks for your input on this and being such a regular contributor. We appreciate it.


  3. If covid proved anything Hawaii needs tourists to support their state infrastructure which they have been getting from the (exorbitant) taxes on everything.

    Tourism seems to now be the only thing supporting their economy, so go ahead, “marginalize tourists” and good luck with that!

  4. As a person who has spent their entire adult life in advertising, this is a good change.Nothing changes until something changes! You can’t spend the same dollars in the same way over and over again year after year.

  5. BOH Guys;

    Thanks, great article, very informative.

    I think what happened to cause the break between HTA and HCVB was the “Covid Surge”(TM) of late Spring and Summer of 2021 and the differing approaches on how to deal with it between the two organizations. I know I was there at the time and witnessed it myself. Ultimately this is all a reaction to that event.

    In the end, this (over)reaction will fade as economic conditions return to normal. What then? I hope a modified economic development and educational approach will prevail.

    I visit Hawaii for that special feeling I get when I am there. It’s very personal and if that is ever gone then so will I be.

    1. Hi Mike.

      Thanks for that and your input on this really important change, which is just starting.


  6. It was never clear why why the HVCB proposal was rejected…

    The Native Hawaiian happened.

  7. Great news! Hawaii is just not the same anymore, it’s lost much of its aloha with way too many tourist that don’t respect the nature and history of the islands. It was headed that way even before the pandemic but now it is not the Hawaii I grew up to know and love.
    Best of luck on this new adventure!! Mahalo

  8. I can’t help but wonder if the HVCA has done their job too well? I wish their soon to be excess to needs employees luck in finding new positions.

  9. I wonder how this will impact ‘Kamaaina Rates’, giving back to Locals for the Inconvenience of the Tourists, in Hotels, Dining and Travel, made possible by the higher Rates paid by Tourists in the Hotel and Dining Industry. I have no problem with the Program, from being told “you are almost Kamaaina” in the late ’80’s into the new Millenia spending minimally 35 days a year there on Business and Pleasure, it is giving back to the people, but sometimes feels forgotten when we hear about added Taxes, Fee’s, etc.. Hopefully the State sorts it out, the recent wave that has buoyed the Economy, comes without Japan or China involved, and Resorts and Dining still trying to get back Staff that has compromised Service and the Experience. A hui Hou!


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