Below is a list of the questions and answers. Thank You
All submissions are due to the HLTA office by close of business on Friday, September 2, 2016.
1. Tourism is Hawaii’s number one industry and one that should not be taken for granted. Please cite three (3) ways in which you can help the industry continue to grow while safeguarding the quality of life for our visitors, employees, and local residents.
We need to distribute the TAT to the communities that they are generated from to enhance tourism in each area. Also reduce administration costs the State takes from the TAT or what is put into the General Fund.
I understand how important advertising is for tourism in Hawaii but I believe we need to reduce the traditional type of State advertising, downsize government and when advertising use social media. There are shortages in our funds that we receive from the TAT that deals directly with tourism, such as: cleaner beaches, life guards, curb appeal of storefronts, public parking for beaches, bike paths (complete the bike paths that have been funded but not completed), boat ramps, tourist watersports expansion, and our environment issues. We need a comprehensive lists of Statewide tourists services for the public and for the travelers to access with an easy menu online. We also need to continue to pursue international markets (especially with the expansion of our airlines routes), such as Australia, Korea, China, and the Asian Pacific Rim.
In the advertising, we need to pursue target markets in business and convention industry. Business travel and international travelers generate a higher occupant dollar per person.
All of the above will generate more employment, more GET dollars, more money supply within our community and reduce storefront vacancies.
2. One issue that is constantly being brought to the forefront, in relation to the tourism industry, is the disbursement of the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT). Do you believe that the counties should receive a larger share of the TAT? If not please explain. YES
TAT (Transient Accommodations Tax) needs to have the state administration fees reduced to a reasonable level (not the 2.25% taken off the top of the 9.25%) AND we need the funds to stay in the places that generate the funds. We need to be specific as to the costs to maintain tourism and need to receive those funds from the TAT plus a reserve before state taps the funds, not the other way around.
U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) recommended that the TAT be transferred from the State to the county governments but The State Legislature did not act on ACIR’s recommendation. The ACIR estimated that “approximately 53% of all outlays for services from which visitors directly benefit are made by the counties. The counties received the following shares of the TAT (45% of the total): 44.1% to the City and County of Honolulu, 22.8% to Maui County, 18.6% to Hawaii County, and 14.5% to Kauai County. How these shares—which remained unchanged to this day-- were determined was never explained. The Convention Center Capital Special Fund received 17.3% of the proceeds, the Tourism Special Fund (for marketing) received 37.9%, and the counties received the remaining 44.8%. Since then, general macroeconomic conditions in the State dictated how the State distributed the TAT revenues. The State Legislature was more generous to the counties in good times; in bad times, the State diverted some of the TAT money for itself. The TAT tax rate was raised to 8.25% effective July 1, 2009 and to 9.25% in 2010 (to sunset in 2015 but in 2013 the Legislature made it permanent). The new law allocated $93 million to the counties instead of 44.8% of TAT revenues; the Convention Center Enterprise Special Fund received $33 million instead of 17.3%, and the Tourism Special Fund received $82 million instead of 34.2%.
3. One of our top legislative priorities this past year was to support House Bill 1850 (2016), which created a mechanism by which the TAT would be collected and remitted by transient accommodations brokers working in conjunction with the Hawai‘i State Department of Taxation. That bill was vetoed despite having support from the majorities in both houses. If this bill were to resurface in the upcoming session would you support it? If not please explain.
No, I would not support the bill.
We do not need another agency (private or public) to monitor the TAT. That would just be more people with their hands in the pot instead of the TAT funds going to the community that generates the funds.
If we need to monitor the illegal and non-reporting of TAT, we need to use some of the existing funds to create and check and balance system for collections. With an inflated amount not going to the areas that generate the TAT there are already funds to develop a way to have a check and balance system. We should seek that all forms of other tourist rental business send out 1099 forms to the IRS, the individual/group, and to Hawaii. We also need to educate and make the reporting and payment process simpler for the general public that rents out rooms, such as Airbnb.
4. The hospitality industry supports initiatives that promote and encourage sustainability in our state. What ideas or incentives from government would you propose to help our tourism industry bolster our “Green” efforts and endeavors?
Solar needs to be easier to implement and should be used for all types of power, such as, outdoor lighting, crosswalks, etc. We should consider the use of synthetic looking lawn in parkway areas to reduce the water and maintenance costs.
We need more avenues to remove our recyclables so we have less trash.
Need to use local farms (provided they can be competitive) for restaurants since this generates more employment and keeps the money local.
5. Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association has been on the front line in the area of combatting homelessness in our state. Would you support having a portion of the TAT earmarked for engaging homelessness solutions in tourism related districts throughout the state of Hawai‘i? If not please explain.
No, we already don’t receive enough of the TAT to cover the other infrastructure that the TAT was intended for. As for the homeless that frequent the tourist areas, we need to have the authorities designate a specific area away for tourism for them to camp until a shelter can be built.
What I do support is government shared development of Homeless Shelters using the models that are self funded from Pinehurst, Massachusetts and other models.
We may have a surplus of land that can possibly be leased or purchased from HG&S for these type of services. They will have up to 9000 acres not designated for Agriculture and with Habitat for Humanity International a homeless shelter could possibly be built. As for the other components of a homeless shelter there are already government agencies and private sector non-profit firms that can complete the missing portions, such as; mental health, day care, job training, food stamps, domestic violence counseling, alcohol and substance abuse, etc.
6. Our airports are the first and last impression our visitors experience when entering and leaving our state. We have long supported the upgrade and modernization of our local airports which have unfortunately fallen drastically in national rankings. If elected, would you support legislation to create an airport authority in our state? If not please explain.
Again, creating more agencies is not a good use of funds. This just keep taking out of the taxpayer funds and once a government agency is created we both know it is never temporary and grows to unmanageable size. We are in the current process of upgrading the airport on Maui and can continually seek improvements but it should be on a bid basis based upon needs and affordability. We already have the lowest paid workers based upon the cost of living and can’t keep expecting the local population to keep taking on costs that there is not a major return on the tax dollar investment.
7. The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association’s mission is to provide education and advocacy to the hospitality industry. Please explain in one (1) paragraph why the members of the hospitality industry should support your candidacy.
Being a teacher, I believe that education is the best way to increase pay and quality of life here on Maui. We have hospitality classes in our high schools, that is a start, but we need a two year college programs for various careers in the hospitality industry that can immediately place students upon graduation here in Hawaii. I will work to expand programs in our schools and develop internship programs with our hotels and restaurants that can train our local population for the numerous openings. We also need to increase the pay so people can earn a living wage and decrease turnover that costs employers time to train. At the same time, we must keep prices competitive within the tourist market.
My campaign addresses numerous issues that all tend to overlap.
T.E.A.C.H.E.R. covers most of it.
T: Transparent and Trustworthy government.
A: Affordable Housing and Homeless
C: Cost to businesses
H: Health Care and Domestic Violence Issues
R: Reduce Regulations