Hawaii tourism

John De Fries Named President and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority

John De Fries has been named the new president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), effective September 16.

De Fries – who is the first native Hawaiian named president and CEO of HTA and was chosen from more than 300 applicants – will replace Chris Tatum, who retired after a 40-year career in the travel industry on August 31.


HTA’s chief administrative officer, Keith Regan, serves as interim president and CEO.

“Hawaii’s path to economic recovery and improved community well-being will require unprecedented levels of focus, collaboration, cooperation, coordination and unified executive leadership across all sectors,” said De Fries. . “I am grateful to have been chosen to lead the Hawaii Tourism Authority.”

De Fries, who was born and raised in Waikiki and resides in Kona, previously led Hawaii County’s research and development department, responsible for driving economic growth in tourism, agriculture and renewable energy.

He also served as CEO of Hokulia, a luxury residential community on the island of Hawaii.

In addition, De Fries served as Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association and served as President and Senior Advisor to Native Sun Business Group, a business consulting and project management firm specializing in the hospitality industries. and real estate development in Hawaii.

“All of us at HTA look forward to John taking the lead in Hawaii’s tourism industry,” said HTA Chairman of the Board, Rick Fried. “I was delighted to see that he is already committed to working on ways to reopen tourism safely while keeping COVID-19 under control.”