What is the purpose of the governance study?

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) fielded a Request for Proposals for development of a study evaluating the structure for governing Hawai‘i tourism and to examine possibilities for the best and highest use of its resources and the design of its organizational structure. The purpose of this work is to determine an effective structure for the State's oversight of destination marketing and tourism management.

What was the process for selecting a consultant to create the study?

HTA issued a procurement compliant with the state procurement code to engage a consultant. Better Destinations LLC was selected as the consultant that provided the best value to the state. HTA entered into a contract in January 2024 that runs through June 30, 2024.

How will the study be developed?

A section of this website called The Process provides a detailed overview of the steps that are being taken to develop a thoroughly researched governance study. Numerous methods of outreach will be conducted to identify the interests and priorities of a wide range of Hawai‘i tourism stakeholders, including government leaders, tourism industry operators, and Hawai‘i communities.

What role will HTA play in creating the governance study?

HTA is providing the consulting team with independence to develop the governance study based on their research, expertise and findings from stakeholder engagement. As the contract manager, HTA is requiring monthly reports of progress and will meet periodically with the consulting team to ensure that deliverables are being met. HTA, the Permitted Interaction Group and the HTA Board are among the many stakeholders identified for consultation during the process of developing the report. Their views will be weighed along with the views of many other key decision-makers and tourism stakeholders.

What understanding of Hawai‘i will the consulting team bring to the work of creating the study?

The HTA evaluation process led to selection of a consulting team with global experience of tourism governance structures and strategies for advancing regenerative tourism. The team is led by Better Destinations founder Cathy Ritter, who is among a handful of people who have led multiple state tourism offices (Illinois and Colorado). Cathy has built a tourism consultancy over the past three years focused on advancing sustainable and regenerative solutions positioning some of the most visited and famous destinations in the U.S. for future success.

The project team also includes two Flanders-based tourism thought leaders, Elke Dens and Frank Cuypers, who formed a shared consultancy in 2023 called Place Generation. Elke has co-authored a leading book on tourism structures and systems, while Frank has co-authored some of the most famous tourism plans in the world, including the Bay of Plenty plan for regenerative tourism and Wonderful Copenhagen's "The End of Tourism As We Know It."

SMARInsights Denise Miller has done extensive research work for more than 40 state tourism destinations, including campaign effectiveness work for HTA marketing efforts.

Very importantly, the project team includes two Hawai‘i-based partners, Karey Kapoi and Jason Economou, with deep ties to Hawai‘i communities and governments and understanding of what is important to them. As a Maui-based lawyer, Jason brings valuable insight into Hawai‘i statutes and government structures.

More information about the Project Team is available elsewhere on this website.

How can I take the stakeholder survey?

For now, anyone with a stake in Hawai‘i tourism is invited to click the link on the home page to register for the survey. You will be sent a copy of the survey when it is released to the public. The survey link will be distributed through a large variety of methods to ensure broad participation across the islands.

When will the governance study be done?

The project team will share a Situation Analysis in early April capturing the main outcomes of desktop research, interviews, governance case studies, initial findings of the stakeholder survey, and results of Co-Creation Labs on Hawai‘i's four main islands. The final study is targeted for completion in late May.