Hawaii State Senate Announces Transformation in Committee Lineup

Honolulu–The Hawaii State Senate today unveiled changes to its committee lineup and chairmanships. Two committees have been added, splitting the current Committee on Tourism and Hawaiians Affairs (THA) into two separate subject matter committees. The new committees are Tourism (TSM) and Hawaiian Affairs (HWN).

Senator Gilbert Kahele will chair TSM with Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran serving as vice-chair. Senator Maile Shimabukuro will chair HWN with Senator Clayton Hee serving as vice-chair.

In the beginning of the session we acted quickly to organize and kept changes to a minimum so that we could focus our attentions on the issues and prepare for the 2013 session,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “Now that session is over, we are afforded the capacity to listen to feedback and evaluate ourselves. In doing so, we have been able to make some positive changes.  These new assignments maximize the skills and interests of each of our members, while providing us with greater opportunity to focus on the individual subject areas.”

Currently, Senator Brickwood Galuteria has served as both the Majority Leader and Chair of THA. The new committee assignments will allow the newly appointed chairs to take on greater leadership roles while providing Galuteria with more flexibility to serve in his continued capacity as Majority Leader.

I am pleased with this new leadership lineup for the committees,” said Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria. “Understanding the role of a chair makes my Senate Majority Leadership assignment more effective. I look forward to working with both Chairs Kahele and Shimabukuro in their new capacities and most importantly to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues to advance the priorities of the Senate Majority.”

Additionally, the Senate announced changes to the vice-chairmanships of the Committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection (CPN) and Water and Land (WTL). Under the new changes Senator Brian Taniguchi will serve as vice-chair of CPN and Galuteria as vice-chair of WTL.


The change in committee assignments will take effect July 1, 2013.

Senator Donna Mercado Kim Comments on HTA’s Recent Visitor Spending Report

On January 30, 2012, Senate Vice President and Senate Committee on Tourism Chair Donna Mercado Kim gave her reaction to the media regarding the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s recent report on the total visitor spending for December 2011.

According to Hawaii Tourism Authority, for the month of December 2011, an outstanding 7.8 percent growth in total arrivals (to 683,293 visitors) and higher daily spending ($185 per person, up from $169 per person in December 2010) pushed total visitor spending to reach $1.298 billion- the highest one-month total on record, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The increase, up $220.6 million over December 2010 in visitor spending, marked the 20th consecutive month of year-over-year growth since May 2010.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority further stated that, December’s strong performance also resulted in annual visitor expenditures increasing to $12.581 billion in 2011, making it the second highest level of visitor spending in the history of tourism in the Hawaiian Islands, down 0.4 percent compared to the 2007 peak year when visitor spending reached $12.626 billion. Total visitor arrivals also increased 3.8 percent to 7,284,069 visitors over 2010.

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Senate Committee On Tourism Visits Kaua‘i

Senate Committee On Tourism Visits Kaua‘i

KAUA‘I – On Monday, August 22, 2011, Senate Committee on Tourism Chair Senator Donna Mercado Kim joined Senate Committee on Tourism Vice Chair Senator Ronald D. Kouchi on Kauai to tour various visitor attractions. Both senators also met with visitor industry professionals in a roundtable discussion to talk about current issues and concerns relating to Kaua‘i.

Many issues were discussed, but one overriding message attendees raised was the appreciation for preserving Kauai county’s share of the transient accommodation tax (TAT).

In attendance of the roundtable discussion: George Costa (Office of Economic Development for the County of Kauai), Pat Griffin (Lihue Business Association), Rowena Cobb (Kauai Board of Realtors), Mattie Yoshioka (Kauai Economic Development Board), Sue Kanoho (Kauai Visitors Bureau), Kirk Nakamoto, Tom Shigemoto, and Randall Francisco (Kauai Chamber of Commerce), Mike Hough (Kapaa Business & Professional Association), and Sandi Kato-Klute (Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association).

On behalf of the Senate Tourism Committee and its chair, Senator Kim, Senator Kouchi would like to thank the attendees and Randall Franscisco for organizing the meeting.

For more information regarding the Hawaii State Senate Tourism Committee and the legislature, please visit the capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Senators Challenge Cuts to Visitors Program

Call on Tourism Authority to restore funding to high-visibility efforts.

State Senators who oversee Hawai‘i’s tourism industry today called on the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority to reverse its decision to slash funding for high-visibility visitor programs. Senator Clarence Nishihara, chair of the Senate Tourism Committee, and Senator Donna Mercado Kim, who was vice-chair of the Tourism Committee before being named to head the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee earlier this week, maintain that the cuts will threaten the state’s efforts to attract repeat visitors. They also say that this appears to be an effort by Governor Linda Lingle to micro-manage tourism.

The Senators were responding to a decision by the Tourism Authority on Thursday to cut special fund spending by about $17 million, which will threaten programs that provide Hawaiian entertainment and greeters at airports and harbors, as well as Sunset on the Beach, evening hula and torch-lighting in Waikiki, and the Waikiki by Moonlight event.

“These are high-visibility events that build warm and lasting memories for our visitors,” said Senator Nishihara. “They make Hawai‘i someplace special, and encourage visitors to come back.

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