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Photo Credit: Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB)/Kawika Singson


Kahe Wale - May 2021

He pūko‘a kani ‘āina.
A coral reef that grows into an island.
A person beginning in a small way gains steadily until he becomes firmly established.

‘Ōlelo no‘eau 932

Aloha HVCB Members,


The return of visitors continues to grow at a steady pace. We have welcomed over 1.5 million visitors in 2021, with April’s count of 574,332 making up 38% of total arrivals year to date. Destination Analysts findings show that the returning belief in travel’s safety remains strong. Over 70% of American travelers say they are highly excited by the prospect of near-term travel and highly open to travel inspiration. This research aligns perfectly with the official launch of the Malama Hawaii Campaign, including, new video assets, which we will be sharing with you shortly.


For the first time, we will also be running our marketing campaign in the Hawaii market. This will enable our residents to see how we are speaking to the potential visitor and see our strategic direction. This is an important element in staying connected to our residents and engaging them in tourism.


The MCI team held a very successful virtual trade show during the last week of April with 28 suppliers meeting with 58 planners from across the country. There was a total of 503 meetings with each attendee participating in an average of 6 sessions. The feedback was very positive, with 90% of the planners saying the event increased their likelihood of booking a meeting or event in Hawaii.


The travel trade team continues to focus on educating travel advisors on Hawaii’s travel protocols through a variety of platforms and is hosting their own virtual two-day education event this week. There are 1900 registrants and 32 suppliers participating. If you were not able to participate in this show, we hope you will be able to join us in the Fall. Watch for more information in the coming months.


Lastly, please join us in congratulating our team members, Sue Kanoho and Karen Wataru Nakaoka, as well as our many HVCB members, for their recent recognition by the PBN Pineapple Awards.


Tourism is rebirthing in small ways but will be firmly established once again soon. Mahalo for your continued support.


Until next month,

John Monahan, President & CEO, and the HVCB Team


Member Spotlight


This month’s member spotlight is Kisan Jo, nominated by Ali Burns, and chosen by an independent committee of HVCB team members.


As President of Prince Resorts Hawaii, including the Prince Waikiki on Oahu and The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on Hawaii Island, Jo has successfully led the company and it’s employees with great compassion throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.


As the pandemic began to unfold, Prince Resorts Hawaii was one of the first companies to extend medical and dental benefits to all employees into 2021, including furloughed staff. Jo and his leadership team also arranged for regular care packages including groceries for every employee and personally delivered packages to the homes of those that were unable to pick up from the hotel.


As President of Prince Resorts Hawaii, Jo’s focus remains planning for future growth and providing sustainable and impactful programs to all of it’s 1,600 employees. For more than a decade, Jo has successfully built the Prince Resorts Hawaii collection into both a thriving hospitality brand and an organization that gives back to it’s local communities. Jo’s commitment also goes beyond Prince Resorts Hawaii and in the industry as he serves on the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association board as well as participates as an active member of the Hawaii Executive Collaborative and Young President’s Organizations. 


Learn how you can nominate an individual, or group, of a member company for a future Member Spotlight Here ►



We want to hear from you! What type of cultural content are you most interested in having covered in our Cultural Connection section? (Select all that apply)

After responding, if you need to make a change, click here.


Malama Hawaii

As the people of Hawaii are welcoming mindful travelers back with aloha, they are also extending an open invitation to malama (care for) Hawaii as part of their journey through our islands.


The Malama Hawaii brand campaign launches mid-May, backed by an integrated marketing plan that includes public relations, paid digital and social media, travel trade training and education, and a coordinated promotion with the Hawaii travel industry to entice travelers with a trip that gives back – to Hawaii, and the visitors.


Proactive earned media pitching efforts are already underway; communicating the Malama Hawaii message to mindful travelers, with the inclusion of volunteer opportunities for all visiting content developers. Travel trade efforts are also in full swing educating travel sellers across the country on the benefits their customers will reap by experiencing a deeper connection with Hawaii.


Paid digital and social media will share a series of new videos by four Hawaii ambassadors invested in the regenerative areas of aquaculture restoration, sustainable farming, reforestation, and wildlife preservation. The campaign call-to-action directs consumers to, where potential visitors can explore a multitude of promotional offers from Hawaii industry partners who have collaborated with volunteer organizations on a statewide basis to give travelers an opportunity to stay an extra day - at no charge - if they participate in a voluntourism activity.


Malama Hawaii shares a vision of regenerative tourism that provides visitors with an enriching experience, and has them going home knowing that when they travel mindfully and malama the islands through unique volunteer opportunities – they are preserving, protecting and perpetuating Hawaii for future generations of residents and visitors alike.


Malama Hawaii assets are available for use in your marketing campaigns. Click here for access to the files.


Welcome to Our New Members

Virtual Professional Development Workshop with Grace Hao

Elevate Mindset & Build Resiliency

Wednesday, June 9th
ZOOM Meeting
$10 for HVCB Members Only


Learn More and Register Here ►


The PR team continues to incorporate Malama Hawaii messaging in our proactive pitching efforts with the inclusion of volunteer opportunities for all visiting content developers.


Television personality Emily Kaufman, known as “The Travel Mom,” promoted Safe Travels as well as the Malama Hawaii program in 11 TV news interviews spanning the West Coast and was so inspired that she created a special video featuring different local ambassadors and their perspectives on malama, as well as her experience sponsoring a native tree at Gunstock Ranch. Additional Malama Hawaii coverage appeared in Thrillist, Men’s Health and Travel + Leisure’s Instagram stories.

Cultural Connection

Though the parades and pageantry have been cancelled to continue the protection of our communities and kupuna, the 149th annual King Kamehameha Celebration is still happening, virtually.


Private lei draping ceremonies are scheduled for Kohala, Honolulu and Hilo on June 11. While the public is discouraged to attend for safety reasons, you can still celebrate the life and legacy of King Kamehameha I in your own, personal way.

  • Consider flying the state flag, proudly created by King Kamehameha in the late 1700s.
  • Donate to a local charity in honor of the King’s pursuit and spirit of his Law of the Splintered Paddle, which proclaimed that “all innocent people, especially the elderly and the youth, be able to sleep safely on the side of the road unharmed.”
  • Make and wear a lei plumeria for a loved one.

For more information, please visit the state’s King Kamehameha Celebration Commission website:

HVCB Island Chapters

Kauai Visitors Bureau


Hanalei Hill:
As a result of the Hanalei Hill Landslide in March 2021, access to Hanalei and beyond on Kuhio Hwy past Mile Marker 1 leading to Hanalei bridge is limited to a stringent schedule. Please visit for updates and the access schedule. It is important to note that no one is be allowed to drive through the landslide work zone outside the times designated.  


Haena State Park:
As a reminder, since 2019, advance reservations are required for all vehicles, walk-in entry, and shuttle riders visiting Haena State Park, as well as for day hikers accessing the Kalalau Trail. Reservations may be made up to 30 days in advance, and no later than the day before visiting on Limited overnight parking is also now available for campers with Kalalau overnight permits for Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. Camping permits must be acquired from State Parks prior to purchasing overnight parking.  


No one is allowed entry to Haena State Park without a pass.  


Aloha Market at NTBG: 


Makai Music & Art Festival:

Oahu Visitors Bureau

OVB Public Relations & Communications

Malama Hawaii, Malama Oahu. HTA’s Malama mindset direction and HVCB’s ensuing Malama Campaign is continuing to pick up momentum here on Oahu, with more members working collaboratively with organizations to bridge an opportunity for their guests to connect with our community through voluntourism efforts and activities that give back to support our natural assets, cultural practices and community. To support the Malama Campaign, OVB will be distributing, to media, a Malama Hawaii, Malama Oahu themed news release on May 19th. Simultaneously, a consumer version will be distributed to OVB’s consumer database on May 25th. Throughout the month of April, OVB’s social media posts supported the Malama efforts by sharing and communicating experiences that give back and preserve. The safety message to malama our community and oneself was also posted.


OVB Media eNewsletter. Tentatively, the next quarterly media eNewsletter will be going out mid-June. If you have future news or updates to share with media, please send to Joy Goto (


Visiting Media. OVB, in collaboration with HVCB and the other Island Chapters, continues to assist upcoming media visits to Oahu, ensuring that our media partners understand our positioning and are directed to appropriate experiences and places. Upcoming media include:

  • Kylie Ruffino is a writer for Budget Travel and will be visiting the island of Oahu from June 11 – 15. She intends to produce 2-3 stories from this trip, with a focus on Malama Hawaii, regenerative travel, culture and history.
  • Carolyn Richardson is a contributor for TripSavvy, LA Parent and LA Times and she will be visiting the island of Oahu from June 21 – 26. She has confirmed assignments with TripSavvy and LA Parent, and will pitch LA Times and will cover Malama Hawaii in her stories. There will be a personal angle to the LA Parent story focused on a new perspective on family travel - finding ways for single parents to enjoy family vacations.

OVB Travel Trade & Sales

Travel Advisor Education – Webinars. Travel Advisor education has been the cornerstone of OVB’s sales efforts. The importance of educating agents on the destination and teaching them how best to position Oahu authentically and respectfully has been a priority at OVB. Unable to travel to trade events and bring travel advisors to Oahu on FAMs, due to the pandemic, initially challenged OVB’s ability to carry this strategy out as we re-welcomed visitors. OVB pushed for ways to continue this important strategy, made even more crucial as safety messaging and travel protocols have been factored in. Webinars were the tactical tools used to push forward with this strategy. OVB restarted their Oahu destinations webinars, providing members the opportunity to join OVB in the training. OVB has also reached out to travel partners – wholesalers, retail agencies and airlines – to tap into their educational webinar programs with a two-part webinar series starting with 1) a focus on Oahu’s safety messaging, travel protocols and general updates followed by 2) a second webinar on Oahu 101 & updates to agents. 

  • On April 23 and April 27, OVB collaborated with Apple Leisure Group and Pleasant Holidays, through their respective webinars platforms to provide Oahu Travel Protocols and Destination Updates, reaching a total of 137 travel advisors
  • In May, OVB will be training travel advisors on the second of the 2-part training strategy, from Resorts of Hawaii Travel Advisors (May 11), Apple Leisure Group (May 26) and Pleasant Holidays (May 27), respectively
  • OVB is also working with Hawaiian Airlines in a collaborative HA & Oahu May Mahalo Month 2-part webinar series (May 19 and June 9)
  • The next OVB initiated OVB Mahalo Monday (Mailpound) update webinar will be on June 7

OVB is supporting a NorCal Hawaii Ohana Education Tour by providing destination education (May 19) and itinerary support while the advisors are in destination May 20-24.


OVB is collaborating with HVCB and the other IC in trade events. OVB will be participating on the Hawaii Leisure Virtual Event on May 12 and 13. For more information, reach out to Robyn Basso (

OVB MCI and Meet Hawaii

OVB continues to support the Meet Hawaii team. OVB participated in the HVCB I Mua Hawaii Virtual Conference Virtual Sales Mission on April 28 and 29, focused on the Incentive market. OVB had 17 one-on-one appointments and provided an Oahu Destination Update to the meeting planners.


In other areas

OVB has been working closely with HTA, C&C of Honolulu and a selected steering committee on developing Destination Management Action Plans (DMAP’s). Community presentations were held on May 4 and 5.

Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau


  • Gave sales presentation to Sales Staff at the Montage Kapalua Bay on April 21
  • Participated in I Mua Hawaii Virtual Event - gave presentation and participated in 4 1:1 appointments over the dates of April 28-29
  • Toured new hotel in Wailea – AC Marriott - April 30
  • Finalized Connect Fam June 6-8, 2021

HTA Updates

Hawaii Tourism Authority Board Selects George Kam To Serve As Chair

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) Board of Directors selected George Kam as its new chair during April’s monthly board meeting. He previously served as its vice-chair. Kam is an active community leader and is a former executive in the surf industry.


“We are in a time of ‘huliau’ or transformative change. This is our time to find solutions towards a pono traveler that balances the opportunities of tourism and the challenges it presents our community. Tourism can be the catalyst to improve the quality of life for all the people of Hawaii. Finding balance is the razor’s edge, the width of a blade of pili grass,” Kam said. “I look forward to working with the community, our elected leaders, the HTA team and HTA board to find that balance.” 


The board also selected David Arakawa as its vice-chair, Kimi Yuen as its second vice-chair, and Daniel Chun as its marketing standing committee chair. Kam replaces outgoing board chair Rick Fried, who ended his term on the board on Tuesday as the Hawaii Senate confirmed new board members Dylan Ching, Keith “Keone” Downing, and Sigmund “Sig” Zane.


“These community leaders were appointed to the board and elected into leadership to guide the Hawaii Tourism Authority through the challenges that face our visitor industry and the sustained relaunch of Hawaii’s economy. I am energized by the opportunity to collaborate with the entire board under this new leadership,” said John De Fries, HTA president and CEO. 


HTA’s Board of Directors is a policy-making entity comprised of 12 members, who serve as volunteers and meet monthly to guide the agency’s work on behalf of the State of Hawaii. Board approval is required for key HTA functions and initiatives, including its annual budget and annual marketing plan, which includes funding support of community programs.


View Full Release ►

2021 Ka Huina Conference

Ka Huina is presented by the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The conference is being presented via Zoom at no charge to attendees on Friday afternoons from 2-5pm, concluding with music for your Aloha Friday.

Click dates and topics above to register or learn more here ►

Oahu Destination Management Action Plan

Input needed! If you were unable to attend the community presentations, you can still provide feedback online.


Review the draft actions:


Submit your feedback by May 21:


Purpose of the Oahu Destination Management Action Plan

  • Rebuild, redefine and reset tourism’s direction over a three-year period through a collaborative process.
  • Engage Hawaii’s visitor industry, communities, and other sectors.
  • Identify areas of need that require management for proactive mitigation planning.

Why should I participate?

  • Provide your feedback to draft actions developed by the Oahu Steering Committee.
  • Be a part of the community-based effort.

Learn more about the Oahu Destination Management Action Plan process at


Questions? Email

What's Happening Around our Industry



Mahalo to the Pacific Business News for recognizing two of our HVCB team members, Sue Kanoho and Karen Wataru Nakaoka, as honorees in the PBN 2021 Pineapple Awards.


A special congratulations goes out to all our HVCB members and colleagues who were also honored for their leadership in the industry. Mahalo for all you do.


Caroline Anderson – The Hawaii Tourism Authority

Heather Bailey – MC&A

Jim Braman – The Cliffs at Princeville

Carly Clement – Outrigger Hospitality Group

Sean Dee – Outrigger Hospitality Group

Stephanie Donoho – Kohala Coast Resort Association

Rosalie Lokelani Fernandez – Kapiolani Community College

Robert Friedl – The Laylow, Autograph Collection

Lora Gallagher – Hilton Hotels of Hawaii

Joe Ibarra – The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Kisan Jo – Prince Resorts Hawaii

Sue Kanoho - Kauai Visitors Bureau

Kelly Kitashima – Residence Inn by Marriott Oahu Kapolei

Robert Oset – Kona Brewing Hawaii

Jonathan Todd – 808 Marketing, LLC

Mike White – Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Karen Wataru Nakaoka – Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau


View Article Here ►


Gourmet Events Hawaii, the state’s premier event planning company, has named Madeleine Noa as its General Manager effective immediately. Noa’s appointment will play a critical role in supporting the company’s continual growth strategy as she provides guidance and leadership to Gourmet Events Hawaii and Kau Kau Box, the company’s popular weekly meal box service.


“We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Madeleine Noa as the General Manager of Gourmet Events Hawaii,” said Kat Lin-Hurtubise, founder and CEO of Gourmet Events Hawaii. “Madeleine is a talented, hardworking leader in the local community, and we’re confident she will bring an unparalleled level of skill and business insight into her general manager role. We feel great about entrusting the care of our valued loyal clients and new clients to Madeleine.”


View Press Release Here ►


Industry Partner Opportunities

Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau invites HVCB members to the following webinar:


Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer: The Role of Business in Rebuilding Trust
Thursday, May 20, 2021


Learn More and Register Here ►

Hawaii Society of Business Professionals 

Complimentary Access for HVCB Members


HVCB is pleased to partner with the Hawaii Society of Business Professionals as they present the webinar, Reopening Hawaii Activities, on Thursday, May 20, 2021.


How are tour operators and activity destinations coping with the returning tourists among tiered restrictions? Are they seeing competition and profits in line with pre-pandemic levels? What protocols do they see remaining into 2022 and beyond?


This is a virtual event. It will be hosted on ZOOM WEBINAR and will be recorded. As a partner organization, HVCB members can attend this virtual event at no cost.


If you would like to take advantage of the free registration, simply reply or email us at and we will provide you the registration link.


Member Testimonials

“From connecting my team and I to new business leads gained during networking events or having access to their extensive research and industry statistics to make strategic business decisions, our membership with HVCB has truly proven to be valuable. My best advice to new and current members: reach out to the HVCB team to see how you can partner and explore your membership further!”


Breana Grosz - General Manager, International Market Place | Taubman


See more ►

Kahe Wale Content

HVCB is happy to accept your feedback, stories, content and news for our industry updates section of Kahe Wale. Please send Kahe Wale feedback to and submit newsletter content to Becky Stark by the end of day on Friday, May 28.


Karen Wataru-Nakaoka

Director of Membership