Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Unveils Comprehensive 2024 Action Plan for Maui’s Recovery

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Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Unveils Comprehensive 2024 Action Plan for Maui's Recovery
Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Unveils Comprehensive 2024 Action Plan for Maui’s Recovery

In a significant move to support the recovery of Maui, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) Board of Directors has approved an immediate six-month action plan for 2024.

The plan aims to address major challenges faced by residents, small businesses, visitor industry providers, Maui’s economy, and families seeking housing.

This initiative aligns with the leadership established by Governor Josh Green, M.D., and the broader efforts of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) and other state agencies.

Strategic Focus Areas and Top Actions

The 2024 action plan focuses on seven key strategic areas, each with specific actions designed to revitalize Maui’s economy and improve the outlook for residents:

  1. Increased Visibility and Call-to-Action for Travel: Targeting high-potential markets through Maui recovery marketing programs emphasizing Mālama Maui in the U.S. and Canada.
  2. Support for Consistent Messaging: Enhancing the GoHawaii.com website and app with additional information highlighting that Maui is open for visitors, and providing support for participation in travel events targeting travel advisors.
  3. Local Messaging for Economic Recovery: Developing messaging to convey that many Maui residents seek full-time work, amplified through television, radio, and social media.
  4. Post-Arrival Visitor Communication: Enhancing post-arrival Mālama Hawaiʻi visitor communication and education efforts with site-specific messaging addressing post-wildfire changes.
  5. Support for Small Businesses: Providing funding support for Maui Made markets on-island and promoting Maui Made products during U.S. West Coast saturation campaigns.
  6. Expansion of Tourism Product: Creating opportunities for travelers to explore different areas of Maui open to visitors, supporting local businesses, and building capacity for small businesses.
  7. Housing Support: Facilitating longer-term housing for wildfire-impacted households in visitor accommodations by increasing communication with out-of-state transient vacation rental owners.

Leadership Perspective on the Action Plan

HTA Board Chair Mufi Hannemann emphasized the balance of critical economic needs with the preservation of Maui’s principles.

“A tremendous amount of thought and listening to people and businesses throughout Maui has gone into the development of this overarching plan,” said Chair Hannemann. “We are hopeful Maui’s tourism industry will begin seeing positive results soon.”

HTA Board Vice Chair Mahina Paishon reiterated the commitment to the well-being of Maui’s residents and families, ensuring that HTA remains supportive and mindful of community sentiments.

HTA Interim President and CEO Daniel Nāho’opi’i highlighted the holistic approach, incorporating input from Maui residents, nonprofits, and businesses. He emphasized the importance of respectful and compassionate travel and encouraged visitors to enjoy their time on the island.

Key Measurable Outcomes

Nāho’opi’i outlined four key measurable outcomes for the implementation of the 2024 plan:

  1. Encourage pono, mindful travel, and increase the number of travelers intending to visit the island in 2024 and 2025.
  2. Grow the tourism economy statewide, supporting Maui’s recovery and boosting the state’s economy.
  3. Ensure ongoing inclusion of Maui residents in discussions about tourism’s recovery.
  4. Increase employment by filling more visitor industry jobs in collaboration with other departments and agencies.

ESTA and Visitor Programs

As the recovery plan unfolds, potential visitors need to understand the entry requirements for the United States.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is instrumental in streamlining travel to the United States for citizens hailing from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries.

Travelers planning to visit Maui and other parts of the U.S. under the VWP should ensure compliance with ESTA regulations, providing a convenient and efficient way to gain approval for their journey.

ESTA is particularly beneficial for short-term visits, allowing eligible travelers to enjoy the beauty of Maui without the need for a traditional visa. It is an ideal solution for those seeking to explore the island’s diverse offerings and support its recovery efforts through responsible tourism.

As Maui strives for recovery, the connection between local initiatives and broader travel programs like ESTA becomes crucial. The collaboration between tourism authorities and programs like ESTA ensures a seamless and positive experience for travelers, contributing to the resurgence of Maui’s tourism industry in 2024 and beyond.