In February he strongly opposes any further increase in the transient accommodations tax in Hawaii, a tax visitors pay for hotel accommodation.
Since hs is now about to lead the Hawaii’s state tourism agency, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, also known as HTA, he may have to change his strong opposition. This tax is directly funding tourism marketing for the state.
HTA uses its research, industry and marketing expertise to develop and implement the state’s strategic tourism marketing plan. Equally important, the HTA is responsible for supporting programs that enhance and showcase Hawaii’s people, place and culture in order to deliver an incomparable visitor experience.
Tourism is the largest industry in the 50th U.S. State, and leading the Hawaii Tourism Authority is one of the most important jobs in Hawaii.
According to local media reports this job is about to be given to George Szigeti, a long time member of Hawaii’s good old boy travel and tourism network.
On his own Linkedin profile Mr. Szigeti says about himself, he is a senior Executive with passions for excellence and building of key community and business relationships. According to his own statement he has extensive experience in leading integrated marketing, sales and operations in high-performance beverage wholesale and distribution organizations. He continues to state, he has a proven track record in driving increasing market share and maximizing revenue opportunities in competitive markets.
Currently George Szigeti is the President & CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, a political lobbying organization for the Hawaii Hotel industry.
The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association (HLTA) is a statewide association of hotels, condominiums, timeshare companies, management firms, suppliers, and other related firms that benefit from and strengthen Hawai`i’s visitor industry. Our membership includes over 150 lodging properties, representing over 50,000 rooms, and over 400 other Allied members. The visitor industry was responsible for generating $14.9 billion in visitor spending in 2014 and supported 170,000 jobs statewide – we represent one of Hawai`i’s largest industries and a
critical sector of the economy.
The organization is listed as a nonprofit.
Before him getting involved in the travel and tourism industry, Mr. Szigeti has been president and CEO of Better Brands Ltd. since 1997. Better Brands, a subsidiary of Young Market Company, is one of the nation’s largest wholesalers and distributors of beer, wine and distilled spirits. Prior to joining Better Brands, he was vice president and general manager of Johnson Brothers of Hawaii, another liquor wholesaler. He also was the sales manager for McKesson Wine and Spirits and the first state manager for E & J Gallo.
In addition to serving on the HLTA board, George was a board member and past president of the Hawaii Food Industry Association, board member of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, president of the Hawaii Liquor Wholesalers Association, and board member of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and several charitable organizations.
When George turned 40 in 2008 and was a leader in the Hawaii liquor business, he said in an interview with Midweek Hawaii:
“I enjoy the camaraderie and relationships that you create with your customers. A lot of them are my friends. I enjoy that when I tell people the business I am in, it puts a smile on their face. They say, ‘Oh, I love wine, I love Grey Goose martinis,‘and I really find that to be very satisfying.”
George George Szigeti interest in the travel and tourism industry must have started in 2008 when he saw the connection between drinking and tourism. In his 2008 interview he indicated this when saying:
“It is important we put out a good (liquor) product for the (Hawaii) hotels – we (Hawaii) are competing against the Caribbean, Mexico and so many other places now,” says Szigeti, who sits on the board of both the Hawaii Restaurant Association and the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association. “So we have a full-time mixologist on staff as well as an Asian market specialist.”
“You see it even with Roy’s and Alan Wong’s, where they used to rely on wine with dinner. They understand the value of having a martini or a really good mixed drink prior to dinner now. Their revenue has gone up by doing that.”
Szigeti’s introduction to the Islands came in the form of a different liquid for which we are world famous – waves. He spent three years in Hawaii starting in 1969 and as a professional surfer, spending his winters on the North Shore courtesy of sponsors and eventually rose to 10th in the world rankings.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA. He and wife Sandra have a student daughter, Alexis.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority has not confirmed or denied the $270,000 $ job appointment at this time due to pending negotiations, but leaked some details to the local media.