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Hawaii Tourism Authority extends U.S. tourism contract amid protest

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Hawaii Tourism Authority is extending the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s U.S. tourism contract and its global support services contract for three months as a stop gap measure to give the agency time to sort out a procurement protest.

Mike McCartney, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, in his role as head of the purchasing agency, said in a statement today, “The Hawaiian Islands are in the middle of the busy summer travel season and planning needs to be done for the upcoming fall period. Therefore, I have determined, with the concurrence with the state’s Chief Procurement Officer, that it is advantageous for the state to extend the current U.S. (major market area) contract with Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau for 90 days, until September 28, which should provide adequate time to resolve the current protest.”

On June 21, HVCB formally protested HTA’s June 2 decision to award a multi-year U.S. tourism contract to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement worth more than $34 million during the first two years.

HTA had previously awarded HVCB a multi-year U.S. tourism contract worth $22.5 million the first year, but rescinded it when CNHA protested in December. HVCB lost by a wide margin this year when HTA resolicited the U.S. brand management and global support services contract.

HTA’s previous contract extension to the bureau, which was executed in December after CNHA’s protest, had been set to expired today.

HVCB will be paid $4.25 million for the most recent U.S. tourism contract extension and $375,000 for the global support contract extension.

McCartney said he made the decision after conferring with HTA President & CEO John De Fries.

“We agreed that granting this extension is in the best interest of our state and creates the necessary timeframe within which the protest can be resolved,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to provide for a fair and smooth transition in which the best partner for HTA is found. Because of my role in this process, I will be respectfully declining from further public comments until the protest is resolved and a new contract is awarded.”

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