Thursday, March 4, 1999

Fishman takes
tourism job

The Hawaii Tourism Authority
taps the airline executive for
|the $150,000 position

By Russ Lynch


Robert J. Fishman, the former city managing director, said today he is likely to be paid $150,000 or more a year in his new job, executive director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Fishman, who was selected by a unanimous vote of the authority's board yesterday, said this morning that his compensation has yet to be finalized. However, he said he was told in pre-selection talks with HTA committees that the authority was willing to pay a competitive salary to get the right person.

Fishman said the board let him know that in general it would match or improve upon the salary and benefits he has at Hawaiian Airlines Inc., where he became vice president of airport services in May.

He said he has a "full executive package" at Hawaiian, with a base salary of $150,000 plus executive incentives.

He was paid $95,000 a year as managing director under Mayor Jeremy Harris, a post he held from September 1994 until last May.

John Reed, chairman of the tourism authority, issued a statement describing Fishman as "well known and deeply respected in our community in both the public and private sectors."

Reed could not be reached for comment regarding the salary this morning.

The HTA was appointed by Gov. Ben Cayetano in October, after a major shift of policy that now has tourism marketing funded directly from the hotel room tax. The dedicated funding is expected to equal about $60 million a year, double the state's previous tourism promotion budget.

While the board earlier announced that the salary range for the executive director's job was $80,000 to $120,000, the salary is really up to the governor. Reed has said there is flexibility.

Fishman said he had some hesitation about the job, partly because his position at Hawaiian was "a dream" job and partly because he didn't think a government agency would be competitive with top executive pay in the private sector.

Fishman, 51, a colonel in the Army Reserves, has worked with the tourism industry before, as chairman of the Convention Center Authority in 1988-90. His background has mostly been in government service and business management posts.

He was deputy general manager of Aloha Stadium in the 1970s and came back as general manager in 1993-94.

He worked as director of communications for Gov. John Waihee in 1992-93 and his government work before that included a 1980 stint as chief of staff to Gov. George Ariyoshi.

In business, Fishman has held top executive posts at Hemmeter Aviation Inc., Capital Investment of Hawaii Inc., Mercury Aviation and a theme-park business, Castle Entertainment Inc.

Fishman said he was happy with the Hawaiian Airlines post and hadn't planned on a career change. "The opportunity to make a difference like this comes along very seldom," he said.

Richard Kelley, chairman of Outrigger Enterprises Inc., praised the appointment.

"I've known Bob for a long time. I've watched him go through the state and city positions. I think he brings an excellent set of skills to the table."

Kelley said Fishman is good at bringing people together to get things done.

He also said Fishman was looked at closely for the job of president of the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau when that job opened up in 1995 and "was definitely a front runner" before he withdrew.

The salary should not be seen as a problem when it is needed to get the best person to head Hawaii tourism in a competitive age, he said.

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