Bishop Street, Waikiki Converge

Mufi Hannemann
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May 11, 2011 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

Tourism executives ventured outside Waikiki in late April to meet at the heart of Bishop Street with First Hawaiian Bank’s chairman and CEO Don Horner to discuss the visitor industry and its place in Hawaii’s economy.

The event was sponsored by the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s Oahu Chapter.

While Bishop Street and Kalakaua Avenue may seem worlds apart, Don made it clear that the visitor industry should be held in high esteem, and he recognized its tremendous contributions to the state’s prosperity.

He offered a number of observations about the visitor industry, among them:

Tourism is, in fact, an “export” business that brings billions of dollars in offshore revenue to Hawaii each year.

Tourism is a stable industry for our state. It’s literally a bricks-and-mortar industry that will remain in the Islands.

“Unlike other industries, people can’t take away hotels and move them back to the Mainland,” he said.

Much of the infrastructure on the Neighbor Islands - roads, schools, water, sewers - would not have been constructed without the infusion of revenue from tourism.

Our travel industry leaders have positioned Hawaii over the last few years as a world leader; we have steadily gained market share over our international competition.

And our “brand” is world-renowned.

Tourism is not an “old industry,” as some have described it. It has become a “high tech” industry with very good-paying jobs.

Hawaii tourism has reinvented itself over the years, and “other Hawaii businesses can learn a lot” from its success, said the FHB head.

Tourism is a “green industry” that promotes eco-tourism, and its success depends on a pristine Hawaiian natural environment.

The travel industry very much assisted in perpetuating our host culture in terms of music and dance by encouraging the fact that without our Hawaiian culture, Hawaii would not be unique.

Horner concluded: “Tourism represents 40 percent of our jobs statewide, directly or indirectly. We eat out of the same rice bowl. If tourism is healthy, the state will be healthy.”

It was the first time many of the executives had been to the upper floors of the bank’s downtown tower, and they appreciated the words of support from “Bishop Street.”

They are words everyone in Hawaii should take to heart.


Roy Robins

Position: Security Officer

Location: The Royal Hawaiian

Roy Robins has the sobriquet of “Ambassador of Aloha” at The Royal Hawaiian, a distinction earned over a stellar 29-year career with this Waikiki landmark.

He’s held a number of positions, including guest service manager, and food and beverage manager. But it’s as a security officer that he’s made a lasting impression on guests and fellow employees alike. He and two fellow officers saved the life of a guest who suffered a heart attack. They used cardiopulmonary resuscitation and a defibrillator to revive the victim, who survived thanks to the security team.

Roy’s grandmother Mary Robins composed the ballad Royal Hawaiian Hotel that has become a signature song for the hotel. He fosters an appreciation of the Hawaiian culture by helping plan the annual May Day program and serves as emcee for the festivities. (Roy is the father of former UH Wahine volleyball star Joselyn Robins.)

A supervisor describes Roy’s work attitude as, “No task or assignment is too difficult for him ... [and] his example as an ambassador is what sets him apart from the rest.”


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