Hawaii tourism

Hawaii Tourism Authority Offers John De Fries Senior Position

The Hawaii Tourism Authority today offered its top job to John De Fries, who, when accepted, would become the organization’s first Native Hawaiian leader.

HTA’s board of directors voted unanimously to offer De Fries the CEO position during its Zoom meeting. De Fries has yet to accept the offer, so HTA was unable to immediately provide the Star-Advertiser with a copy of his contract.

De Fries, who was born and raised in Waikiki, has worked in tourism since the 1970s. His experience includes tour operator operations, hotel sales and marketing, television sports marketing, resort operations, resort construction hoteliers and the development of planned residential communities with resort-class amenities.

He is currently President and Senior Advisor of Native Sun Business Group Inc., a business consulting and project management firm focused on the hospitality and real estate development sectors in Hawaii.

He also served as executive director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA). He headed the Hawaii County Research and Development Department. He also served as President and CEO of Hokulia, a luxury residential community on the island of Hawaii. De Fries sits on numerous boards, including Kualoa Ranch, Bishop Museum, and the Keahole Center for Sustainability.

De Fries made his desire for the job known in June when he turned down a proposed position as Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Governor that would focus on identifying a reconciliation process with Native Hawaiians; as well as Maunakea and TMT issues.

De Fries replaces HTA President and CEO Chris Tatum, who joined HTA in December 2018 and is retiring August 31 to “spend more time with his family.” “

HTA President Rick Fried said De Fries was selected from 324 applicants.

“The Board felt that John would do a great job as the new President and CEO of HTA with generational roots in Hawaii and given his vision for the future, which is so needed in this time. of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fried said.

HTA’s leadership change comes at a pivotal time for the agency, which is facing overwhelming pressure from a significant drop in travel demand due to COVID-19 fears and lockdowns.