Mufi’s Message

By Mufi Hannemann, President & CEO | Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association
June 10, 2021


Yesterday, HLTA and ClimbHI awarded $1,000 scholarships to two outstanding educators to gain experience in and understanding of our industry. This has been a long standing objective of mine to assist hospitality educators and the teachers who were selected in the first year of this scholarship are exemplary in every sense of the word.

Fern White is a West Hawai‘i District Resource Teacher for Career & Technical Education programs on Hawai‘i Island. She is a National Board Certified English Language Arts Teacher who has taught guidance, health, physics, computer science, and engineering design. Fern noted in her scholarship application that she intends to learn more about the image of hospitality in Hawai‘i and how cultural values are embedded in the industry.

Alyssa Alcos is a teacher at Wai’anae High School where she also advises the school’s DECA Club which aims to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in the areas of marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. For the past two years, Alyssa has served on the board of the Hawai‘i Association of Career & Technical Education, an organization that promotes career readiness among the different educational pathways. In her application, Alyssa stated that “if hospitality is about having the love to serve, then hospitality in Hawai‘i has got to be about sharing the love of our culture through service. I hope I can continue to perpetuate that in my future curricula.”

Mahalo to ClimbHI President & Executive Director Julie Morikawa for her leadership throughout this process. If our first two scholarship recipients are any indication of what is to come regarding hospitality education around our state, the future is clearly bright for both teachers and students.

During the Zoom meeting where the scholarships were presented, Julie shared the above video which was filmed during the early days of the pandemic. ClimbHI worked with the students to provide them background and context as it pertains to the hospitality industry and then created this video for them to share their mana’o. To say that I was impressed by these youth would be an understatement.

Please take a moment to watch the video as it clearly illustrates the power that lies in providing education and insight to our community’s future leaders.

You may recall that the Maui County Council is currently considering two measures that would issue moratorium on building permits for hotels for the next two years. One would limit the ban to West and South Maui while the other would cover the entire county.

I wanted to bring to your attention an article from The Maui News that detailed opposition raised by TZ Economic’s Paul Brewbaker. The former chief economist for Bank of Hawaii noted especially that the reasoning behind these proposed measures is faulty in that they cite overtourism and growth in the lodging industry. He correctly pointed out that, in the past 30 years, the total room count on Maui has only grown by 3,000 rooms while hotel rooms have actually decreased on Moloka’i. The fastest growing segment of the lodging inventory is in vacation rental units. Brewbaker further echoed the comments in our testimony which highlighted the unseemly timing of these proposals which come just as the lodging industry is getting back on its feet.

Kudos to Paul for his willingness to be frank in his analyses. We need more like him to help us deter further questionable attacks on the lodging industry and tourism as a whole.


Mufi Hannemann
President & CEO
Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association

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Hawaii preserves the island in means of taking care of their people and those who wish to experience the true meaning of aloha. Over time, Hawaii eventually became the most desirable destination to visit, putting the hospitality and tourism as the leading industry on each of the islands. ClimbHI’s effort to promote jobs to local Continue Reading

Sheralyn Soliven University of Hawaii, Maui College April 28, 2017

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