House Finance Committee Members Grill Tourism Officials On Budget Request

Gov. David Ige’s administration is asking lawmakers for $150.5 million to fund tourism-related activities, including operating the Hawaii Convention Center and the Hawaii Tourism Authority, for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Specifically, the request includes $60 million to pay for operations of the tourism authority, $28.5 million for convention center operations and maintenance and $64 million to replace the convention center’s leaking rooftop terrace deck.

Although the tourism authority was hardly the only agency that made requests during the 90-minute budget briefing, the authority’s requests – which were the largest by any agency – generated the most questions from lawmakers.

It’s a new situation for the HTA and the entity that oversees it, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Previously, the HTA got its funding from hotel tax money distributed directly to the tourism authority, so there was no need to go to lawmakers every year to request money.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has asked for $150.5 million for the fiscal year starting in July, including $60 million in operational money so it can manage tourists and convince them “to give more than they take” when they visit. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

But that changed last year, when the Legislature passed a bill eliminating the tourism authority’s special funding stream. So on Wednesday, DBEDT officials outlined the department’s money needs to the House Finance…

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