Hawaii’s New Tourism Head Full of Optimism

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The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that Mike McCartney, the new president and chief executive of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, is undeterred by the coming challenges.

"I just want to leave Hawaii better than we found it," says McCartney. "This job creates an opportunity to do that."

McCartney succeeds former HTA chief executive Rex Johnson, who abruptly resigned in October after allegations surfaced that he had used his state laptop to forward pornographic e-mails and racist and sexist jokes to friends. While McCartney was unanimously endorsed by HTA board members, some in the community have been critical of his limited travel industry and business background. McCartney's prior tourism experience is limited to his role as HTA chair from 2002 to 2004.

McCartney has his own ideas about how to turn around the state's tourism industry.

"We just need to adjust," he said. "It's like being on a voyaging canoe. You adjust your sails in the direction that the wind has changed. You don't spend your time trying to figure out whose fault it was. It's no one's fault."

When asked what were the biggest challenges facing Hawaii's visitor industry, McCartney responded,  “We have to balance the need for marketing with the need to refresh and improve product development. What we face is a changing world with increased competition. There is a new world and there are new markets, so we need to rethink our strategies and double the efforts in our base markets.”

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