Hawaii Tourism Reinvests $3.78 Million in Community Projects


The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Signature Events and Community Enrichment programs demonstrate its longstanding commitment to reinvesting in the community and implementing its Strategic Plan and Destination Management Action Plans.

HTA today announced it is awarding $3.78 million in funding to support 76 community projects, festivals, and events throughout the state as part of its Signature Events and Community Enrichment programs in 2023.

“The festivals and events being supported by our Signature Events and Community Enrichment programs are integral to Hawaii’s multi-cultural community and contribute to a stronger, diversified economy,” said John De Fries, HTA’s president and CEO. “By providing funding assistance to these programs on each island, we are vigorously supporting our kama‘āina – cultural practitioners, musicians, artists, athletes, production staff, nonprofit groups, and volunteers – who are sharing meaningful experiences with residents and visitors alike.”

Since 2017, HTA has invested more than $11 million to over 411 community projects and events. HTA’s Signature Events program supports major festivals and events that provide a unique and enriching experience, preserve Hawaii’s natural resources, perpetuate Hawaiian culture, and celebrate the islands’ multi-cultural diversity and community. HTA’s Community Enrichment program supports community-based projects and experiences that encourage tourism diversification in the areas of agriculture, culture, culinary, education, health and wellness, nature, sports, and voluntourism. Both programs seek to build kamaʻāina leadership capacity in Hawaii’s communities and organizations.

HTA has partnered with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and Island Chapters to administer its 2023 Signature Events and Community Enrichment Programs. Funded by HTA, five program project managers have been appointed to administer the awardee contracts in each county.

• Christy Calabrese has recently re-joined HVCB. She is responsible for managing the statewide Signature Events and Community Enrichment awardee contracts. With years of experience, she has a background in travel trade and tourism.

• Michelle Pope has joined the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau. A dynamic professional who is driven by clear communication and efficient workflows, she is passionate about building community and supporting local non-profit organizations.

• Sumithra Balraj has joined the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau encompassing Maui, Molokai and Lānai. Most recently, she served as the director of public relations at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

• Taryn Pascua has joined the Oahu Visitors Bureau. Born and raised on Oahu, she has more than eight years of experience in project management, communications, and marketing. Pascua has partnered with various nonprofits and stakeholders to create impactful campaigns that support the community.

• Lani Kaui joined the Kauai Visitors Bureau in 2015. In addition to managing the Community Enrichment Program on Kauai for 2022 and 2023, she handles a range of responsibilities including coordinating familiarization programs, travel and tradeshows, webinars, and presentations.

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