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Top Hawaii tourism official retiring amid coronavirus fallout

Top Hawaii tourism official retiring amid coronavirus fallout
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Hawaii's top tourism official announced his retirement on Wednesday as the state’s travel and hospitality industry has taken a hit because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Tatum told his staff and the organization's board that he will retire on Aug. 31, according to a statement from the authority.

“I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished,” Tatum, who took over in December 2018, said, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. “I’m very proud of the HTA team and our refocused plans to develop a balance strategy for tourism. Now, I’d like to get us through the quarantine and help with the recovery piece and long road back.”

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Tourism in the state has been operating at a fraction of its capacity after Hawaii implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors. In April, when many states remained under stay-at-home orders, arrivals to Hawaii fell 99.5 percent.

The Star Advertiser noted that the tourism authority’s fiscal year 2021 budget dropped to $55.2 million from $86 million in fiscal year 2020. Its branding budget is expected to drop to $28 million for fiscal year 2021, a 44.5 percent decline from the previous fiscal year, the newspaper added. 

There has been no replacement announced for Tatum, who has committed to helping the board’s transition and recovery efforts before moving to Colorado with his wife. 

Hawaii has counted 653 confirmed cases of COVID-19, leading to 17 deaths, according to the state’s health department.