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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      June 20, 2007

Release No. M-64-07

 

 

TOURISM ISSUES

TOP MAYOR’S AGENDA IN LOS ANGELES

 

Mayor Mufi Hannemann heads for Los Angeles tonight (Wednesday, June 20) for a whirlwind trip that will find him speaking on tourism to the Travel Business Roundtable and pressing the City’s case on key issues at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 75th annual meeting.  He returns to Honolulu the morning of June 27.

 

Travel Business Roundtable

 

            Hannemann will participate in a roundtable discussion on tourism issues with prominent visitor industry executives and other mayors, an event sponsored by the Travel Business Roundtable (TBR).

 

The group was established in 1995 as an outgrowth of the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism, where Hannemann served as a delegate during his term on the City Council.  Its goal is to educate and share ideas with elected officials on the importance of travel and tourism to the United States.  The TBR is headed by Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman and CEO of the Loews Hotels, and has become an influential force on Capitol Hill and in industry circles.

 

         Its membership includes about 70 CEOs and senior executives from travel-related companies, including hotels, airlines, car rental agencies, travel management firms, financial services companies, and theme parks, as well as Coca-Cola, the National Football League, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

 

            Hannemann will share his perspective on tourism trends and developments on Oahu, drawing on his experience as mayor, in the private sector, as head of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism and Office of International Relations, and as a long-time champion of the local visitor industry.

 

U.S. Conference of Mayors

 

            At the five-day annual meeting of the Conference of Mayors, Mayor Hannemann will chair a Friday meeting of the standing committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment, and Sports (TAPES).  He is also a member of the Conference of Mayors’ advisory board.

 

            Hannemann has introduced a number of resolutions related to tourism, specifying actions to be taken to stimulate and support travel to the United States.

 

            China travel:  A key resolution, cosponsored by Hannemann and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, calls upon the Bush administration to enter into a bilateral agreement with China to expand Chinese group leisure travel to the United States and streamline the visa application process.  Hawaii stands to benefit significantly through increased Chinese travel to the United States.

 

            REAL ID repeal:  Hannemann is calling for the repeal of the REAL ID Act, the federal measure that mandates federal standards for state driver licenses and identification cards.  Hannemann testified in March before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, at the request of Senator Daniel K. Akaka, against the program’s implementation.  He said that, unlike mainland jurisdictions, the City will bear the brunt of this cumbersome requirement in Hawaii because the lion’s share of licenses are issued by the counties, not the state, and the City stores all driver license computer records.  Costs to the City have been projected at $7.67 for one-time implementation and another $17.9 million for the first five years of the effort—90 percent of it borne by the City.

 

            Visa reforms:  This measure calls upon the federal government to implement common-sense visa policy reforms, including reducing interview wait time, adopting technology for visa interviews, expanding the visa waiver and model airports programs, implementing an international registered traveler program, and improving training for customs officials.

 

            Border travel:  The resolution would have the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State delay implementing the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which calls for passport cards for travel between the U.S. and Canada, until such time as a public-private educational outreach campaign can be launched.

 

            Arts support:  Hannemann is joining Providence (Rhode Island) Mayor David Cicilline in introducing a resolution pushing for more funding for federal culture and the arts agencies and programs.  The two are also urging their fellow mayors to support the arts in their cities as an economic stimulus, pointing to a Conference of Mayors and Americans for the Arts survey that revealed that the nonprofit arts and culture sector generates $166 billion in economic activity, supports 5.7 million jobs, and pays $9.1 billion and $7.9 billion in state and local government tax revenues, respectively.

 

Hannemann has introduced other resolutions seeking to stimulate more private donations to the arts, more mayoral support for National Arts and Humanities Month, and continued federal funding for public broadcasting.

 

            Among the guests slated to speak to the mayors during the conference are California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and presidential candidates U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich.

 

            Honolulu is a finalist in this year’s 28th Annual City Livability Awards, sponsored by the mayors’ group.  The award, which would be for the Tour de Trash organized by the Department of Environmental Services, will be accepted by Hannemann if the City is selected.

 

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Contact:

Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Monday, June 25, 2007

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