An Example Of Tourism At Its Best
On any given day, there are as many as 127,000 people in Waikiki, making it a sizeable city by any account.
This population includes 20,000 residents, 32,000 workers and 75,000 visitors. While the city government provides the general public services and infrastructure for this city within a city, many businesses and residents also contribute to its betterment through Waikiki Improvement Association.
WIA has developed an impressive record during its proud 40-year history.
The association can be credited with a role in dedicating the statue of legend Duke Kahanamoku; establishing the Waikiki gateways at King Kalakaua Park and Ala Wai Boulevard fountain; organizing numerous beach cleanups; pushing for Waikiki Special District changes to city ordinances; planning for Waikiki’s revitalization; organizing popular events such as the Spam Jam, Sunset on the Beach and Waikiki Hula Conference; and joining with others to develop the Waikiki Historic Trail, among others.
Under the leadership of president Rick Egged, the WIA has taken on a number of ambitious projects to rejuvenate this engine of Hawaii’s tourism economy, largely through public-private partnerships involving the visitor industry and government agencies.
For example, when I was mayor, the Department of Planning and Permitting worked with WIA, City Council, area neighborhood boards, Outdoor Circle and businesses to amend signage regulations to allow larger signs in Waikiki.
In another initiative of my administration, we developed a publicprivate partnership, with the involvement of WIA, to fund the ongoing sidewalk improvements on Kalakaua Avenue that you see now.
This construction project involves the installation of quartzite pavers on sidewalks for both public and private property. It will create a seamless appearance and add to Waikiki’s standing as a worldclass destination.
With traffic and transportation issues in Waikiki a major concern, WIA has been pushing for transportation improvements and is also working with the city on a transit link between Waikiki and the forthcoming rail terminus at Ala Moana Center.
The association has initiated another round of proposed planning and zoning changes to the city’s Waikiki Special District. The initial round, which Donna Mercado Kim and I championed as members of the City Council and which involved WIA and Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, led to the construction of new hotel properties with more open space. The dramatic improvements to Beach Walk, which were made possible by those earlier WSD changes, should inspire the continuing revitalization of other parts of Waikiki.
The visitor industry is more than hotels, visitor attractions and airlines. A successful tourism industry requires the collaboration of businesses, government and others, all working together toward common goals that contribute to the greater good. Waikiki Improvement Association is an excellent example of that ideal in action.
MUFI’S VISITOR HEROES
Position: House Car Driver
Location: St. Regis Princeville Resort
Frank “Sparky” Cano has worn many hats since joining St. Regis Princeville Resort. He was a shuttle driver, greeter, security officer and pool attendant before becoming the house car driver.
Frank is generous in sharing his knowledge about Kaua’i and the island culture with guests, making them feel welcome. Always keenly aware of guests’ needs, he recently helped a restaurant patron who had celebrated a little too much get home safely. He assists guests wherever he finds them, and they respond by complimenting him by name when completing their satisfaction surveys.
Frank is active with Kaua’i United Way and the Visitor Industry Charity Walk, as well as the hotel’s participation in the Kaua’i Food Bank drive.