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Original awardee of HTA contract calls proposed rescission 'unlawful'

Kūhiō Lewis CNHA John Monahan HVCB.jpg
Hawaii State Senate / YouTube
Hawaiʻi Visitors and Convention Bureau president and CEO John Monahan (left) and Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement CEO Kūhiō Lewis (right) testify in front of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday, November 28, 2022.

It's been a several days since the director of the state's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism proposed cancelling a lucrative tourism marketing contract, which restarts a procurement process for a third time in over a year.

Director Mike McCartney told the Senate's Ways and Means committee on Monday that he is responsible for the mishandling of awarding the Hawaii Tourism Authority's marketing contract for the domestic market. And to rectify the situation, he proposed cancelling the contract to restart the process.

In June, HTA awarded the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement the $34 million agreement, after a second request for proposals was issued earlier this year. The Hawaiʻi Visitors and Convention Bureau protested the decision, resulting in McCartney having to intervene to mediate the challenges.

In October, McCartney and HTA executives announced the contract would be split between CNHA and HVCB. CNHA would be responsible for destination management actions, while HVCB would handle marketing.

In a media release on Thursday, Lewis called McCartney's proposal not only a disservice to the state, but also 'unlawful'.

Governor-elect Josh Green told Hawai'i News Now earlier this week that he would like to see a quick resolution to the matter, and not waste any state resources on litigation. It's believed that if challenges for the deal were to continue, it would take more than a year to resolve in the courts.

While Lewis agrees with Green's statement, he emphasized CNHA is prepared to take legal action if necessary.

You can read Kūhiō Lewis' full statement below:

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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