Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA), has issued a statement that the organization does not support any proposed increase to the transient accommodation tax (TAT) beyond the current 9.25 percent.
"An increase to the TAT would negatively affect Hawai'i's competitive position in the marketplace by putting an additional tax on our visitors," McCartney said in a written statement. "This could cause us to lose momentum in the significant gains in visitor arrivals and spending experienced over the past three years. We need to ensure the continued success of our industry for the state's economy to be sustainable."
"Hawai'i is a leisure destination, where the visitor's spending is discretionary," he added. "As such, our visitor market is price-sensitive, and any increase could drive a traveler to a competing destination. An increase to the TAT will only diminish Hawai'i's ability to compete in a price-sensitive market."
Currently, the visitor industry supports more than 166,000 jobs. However, it is still below the peak of more than 178,000 jobs in 2005, and the HTA feels an increase in the TAT could cause a loss of jobs in the tourism sector.