Incumbent Gov. David Y. Ige will head into the Aug. 11 Democratic primary with the endorsement of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, the state’s largest private-sector tourism organization.
Ige, secured the gubernatorial endorsement with the unanimous vote from all four HLTA county chapters and the statewide endorsement committee. Some 700 visitor industry members across the state belong to HLTA, collectively representing more than 50,000 hotel rooms and nearly 40,000 lodging workers.
Much of Ige’s success likely had to do with his announcement at the July 2 HLTA candidate forum that he would veto Senate Bill 2699, a bill that was unpopular with the visitor industry because it would have included resort fees in the gross rental proceeds that are subject to the transient accommodations tax (TAT).
On July 10, Ige vetoed the measure because “the vague language could subject restaurants, spas, and other businesses located in hotels to add the TAT to their services.” Ige said the additional taxes imposed by the measure could result in “significant increases in accommodation costs for our residents and visitors staying in Hawaii hotel properties.:
HLTA President & CEO Mufi Hannemann said in a statement that Ige’s ” leadership on tourism was reflected on how he heard our views on a potentially harmful resort fee bill and subsequently vetoed it. His administration’s stand on the as-yet-unresolved transient vacation rentals issue, which is a top priority for HLTA, closely mirrors ours.”
Last year, Gov. David Ige’s administration pursued a private tax agreement with Airbnb that would allow the online vacation rental hosting site to serve as a tax collection agent for its hosts.
Although Ige was unsuccessful, some lawmakers and community members said they supported his effort, which could have brought additional money to state coffers by advancing an issue that has repeatedly stalemated in the legislature.
Hannemann also praised Ige’s democratic opponent Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.
“Her work as a senator, for example, in making the Ko Olina resort development a reality added a welcome new dimension for the visitor industry which continues to expand and flourish today,” he said.
HLTA also is supporting Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary
“The mayor has been a staunch supporter and ally of the visitor industry during his 10 years in office. He has been there for us through thick and thin, an important quality given the challenges Garden Island tourism has experienced over that time,” Hannemann said.