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Hawaii Cultural Programs Face Possible CutsDecember 12, 2008 By: Mark Rogers
Hawaii is famous for enveloping visitors in its appealing culture, from musicians greeting arriving visitors with music at the airport, to free nightly hula performances in Waikiki.
The Honolulu Advertiser reports that the Hawai'i Tourism Authority has said that plummeting hotel room tax revenue is forcing the authority to cut money from various programs. The board indicated it will be have to hold back $17 million in money that had been set aside cultural initiatives. This figure accounts for about 20 percent of the authority’s $88 million budget. Waikiki Improvement Association president Rick Egged earlier told board members that eliminating the $1.75 million that helps support Sunset on the Beach movies and the daily hula show and torch lighting at Kuhio Beach could jeopardize these events.
Lulani Arquette, executive director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, cautioned the board against cutting too deeply into these programs that help share the culture of the Islands with visitors. "I know that there have been very, very difficult times in the last few months," she said, referring to the double-digit dips in the numbers of visitors coming to Hawaii. But Arquette warned that cutting into hula and culture initiatives risks reducing the "essence of aloha."