Hotel industry leader George Szigeti has been tapped to lead the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which markets the state as a travel destination, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.
According to industry insiders, Szigeti was selected from a pool of about 23 candidates worldwide. He is expected to be confirmed as HTA’s new president and CEO at the next board meeting.
Szigeti, who is president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, declined to comment.
Szigeti’s ties to Hawaii tourism run deep. He has been president and CEO of Better Brands Ltd., a wholesaler and distributor of beer, wine and spirits, from 1997 to 2012. He also is a past president of the Hawaii Food Industry Association and has served as a board member of the Hawaii Restaurant Association and in leadership roles in other industry organizations.
A selection committee reportedly recommended Szigeti to the board during the monthly board meeting last Thursday. However, at the time, HTA declined to identify the candidate because they said negotiations were ongoing.
Szigeti will replace Ron Williams, former HTA board chairman. Williams has been serving as interim chief executive officer of the agency since Mike McCartney left the job in November to become chief of staff for Gov. David Ige.
While the HTA did not advertise the position’s salary range, McCartney’s last contract specified a base salary of $270,000.