The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has announced it has parted ways with President and CEO, George Szigeti, who has held the position since 2015. Hawaii News Now reports that the HTA’s board voted unanimously on Thursday to terminate Szigeti’s contract “without cause,” a contract that was slated to run through 2020. The board stressed that it was not a firing, and said Szigeti will remain on the job until October 31.
"I respect the board's decision that they want to take a new direction, and it was by mutual agreement we said okay, it's termination without cause," Szigeti told Hawaii News Now.
According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, the board has agreed to pay Szigeti six months of pay in a lump sum on the day after his termination, set for October 31. The severance amount was outlined in Szigeti’s contract.
The HTA’s decision to part ways with Szigeti comes just months after the organization was criticized for its spending and business practices in an audit from the State of Hawaii in February.
The audit said, “We found that HTA reimbursed millions of dollars to contractors without receipts and other required documentation; reimbursed costs, such as first-class airfare, luxury hotel accommodations, and other extravagant expenses, that were expressly prohibited by contract; and consistently failed to enforce contract terms that are intended to protect the State.”
The HTA also received criticism for refusing the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) $6 million offer to bring a UFC event to Hawaii. Khon2 News reported in April that, following the HTA's refusal, UFC president Dana White said there won’t be an event in Hawaii “anytime soon."
According to Hawaii News Now, these issues were not brought up during the board's decision to part ways with Szigeti.