Thursday, June 24, 1999

HTA seeks help
sorting through

The tourism panel says it has
too many funding requests
for sporting events

By Russ Lynch


The Hawaii Tourism Authority plans to hire professional consultants to sort through a flood of requests to fund future sports events that will publicize the islands.

HTA board member Mark Rolfing, head of the events committee, told an HTA meeting yesterday that he expects to have a request for proposals out soon and a decision to retain a professional firm or firms could come as early as Aug. 1. The required funding can't be estimated until the proposals come in, but he expects it would run to about $250,000 or $500,000 a year for management fees, Rolfing said after the meeting.

Professional management would not only be efficient, it also could attract millions of dollars in sponsorships from outside Hawaii to help develop and promote the events, Rolfing said.

He said his committee and a single HTA staffer, sports coordinator Russ Francis, have spent countless hours evaluating proposals for events to be funded this year before coming up with a list and about $1 million in funding for them.

The bigger flow of proposals expected for 2000 and beyond is too much for that system, Rolfing said. "It was just so time-consuming, I don't think we could go through that again."

Among tasks for the professionals would be measuring the performance of the events themselves and their effectiveness in attracting tourists. They would also provide management help for the events themselves.

In other action, the HTA approved a budget of $3 million for 55 grants to aid "product development" -- the enhancement of Hawaii's natural and cultural assets to improve the visitor experience.

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