Statement from HTA President & CEO John De Fries
"June 13, 2022
The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) has awarded the Hawaiʻi Tourism USA contract to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) as part of a thorough procurement process. The contract provides for a comprehensive range of brand\ management and visitor education services for the Hawaiian Islands, as well as support
services shared by Hawai‘i’s brand management teams worldwide.
HTA issued the revised Request for Proposal (RFP) on April 15, and the formal notice of the award to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement was made on June 2. Once the procurement is complete and a contract finalized, HTA will provide an industry update to introduce the new contractor and to share more about HTA’s vision for the
branding of Hawaiʻi and visitor education efforts in the US market.
Volunteer evaluation committee members, that represented a cross-section of community, industry, and government, worked hard to evaluate proposals, listen to oral presentations, and score each proposal on its merits and responsiveness to the criteria
listed in the RFP, fairly with impartiality.
Hawaiʻi Visitors & Conventions Bureau (HVCB), which currently holds the Hawaiʻi Tourism USA contract through June 29, 2022, has other existing contracts with HTA which include promoting Hawaiʻi globally as a destination for meetings, conventions and incentives, and on-the-ground destination management through the Island Chapters
and the island-based Destination Managers. HTA will continue to work with HVCB to support Hawaiʻi’s communities and visitor industry on these programs.
If a protest to the contract award is filed by HVCB, HTA, in compliance with the procurement process, will await the outcome of a review by the Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. If no protest is filed by the June 21 deadline, HTA will begin finalizing a multi-year contract with CNHA. Should the existing contract expire before a new one is in place, HTA will fill the gap in brand management and visitor education for the U.S. market in-house using existing funding. Contingency planning is ocurring at this time, which may include temporary reassignment of staff, emergency temporary hires, emergency procurement, and convening members of the HTA Board in an advisory capacity.
Both HVCB and CNHA deserve much gratitude as both brought their very best proposals to the evaluation committee for consideration. Additionally, I would like to thank the members of the evaluation committee who took on the monumental task of identifying the best pathway forward. We recognize that a change of this magnitude requires a period of adjustment and healing to ensure a unified effort throughout this transition as individuals on all sides are respected colleagues.
We know that there is much interest throughout the visitor industry and community at large regarding CNHA’s selection, and once the procurement process is concluded, we will share additional details and insights. People involved in the procurement are still under a non-disclosure agreement to ensure the integrity of the process, and we are unable to offer any additional comment on the merits of the proposals until the procurement process is concluded.