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HTA Appoints Tatum as President & CEO

November 29, 2018, 11:35 AM HST (Updated November 29, 2018, 1:18 PM)
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The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s (HTA) board of directors unanimously confirmed the appointment of longtime tourism executive Chris Tatum as its new president and CEO on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018.

Chris Tatum. Courtesy photo.

Currently the area general manager for Marriott Resorts Hawai‘i, Tatum is in the process of retiring from a 37-year career at Marriott to lead HTA. He is expected to start work in the coming weeks once the necessary requirements for employment with the state of Hawai‘i have been fulfilled.

Tatum’s appointment concludes a process by HTA’s board of directors that began four months ago to find and appoint a new leader of the agency responsible for managing tourism for the state of Hawai‘i. More than 100 applicants sought the position after the executive search process began on July 27.

Led by HTA Board Chair Rick Fried, a committee of board members and community members reviewed the qualifications of the applicants, before narrowing the list down to a group of finalists for interviews from which Tatum was selected and offered the position.

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Fried commented, “Chris Tatum has an ideal combination of qualities, experience and dedication to service that is needed to lead the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority forward, and the ability to guide the future direction of our state’s most important industry in serving the interests of residents on all islands.”

Tatum, who moved to Hawai‘i as a youth and graduated from Radford High School, is an accomplished executive of Hawai‘i’s tourism industry. He appreciates this opportunity to make a positive difference for an industry that is the foundation of his career.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a difference in my home by developing a sustainable brand strategy that enhances the visitor’s experience, while preserving our way of life.”

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Tatum has contributed his time and expertise to the betterment of Hawai‘i’s tourism industry that goes beyond his professional responsibilities for Marriott. He previously served as chairman of both the Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association and O‘ahu Visitors Bureau, and was also a member of the Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemorative Committee and 2011 APEC Hawai‘i Host Committee. Currently, he serves as chairman of the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau.

In 2015, Tatum was presented with the Legacy in Tourism Award by the University of Hawai‘i’s School of Travel Industry Management in recognition of his leadership of tourism in the islands.

Tatum’s career in the hospitality industry began as a housekeeping houseman at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel during his summers home from college. After graduating from Michigan State University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in hotel and restaurant management, Tatum helped open the Maui Marriott Resort & Ocean Club at Kaanapali after which he steadily rose through the ranks of leadership positions with Marriott on the U.S. mainland, and in Asia and Australia.

Tatum’s Marriott executive positions have included serving as area vice president of Hawai‘i, Pacific Northwest, Northern California and Utah, and also as area vice president of North Asia, Hawai‘i and the South Pacific.

He has also served as the opening resident manager of the Kauai Marriott Resort and the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and as the opening general manager for the Brisbane Marriott Hotel in Australia.

Tatum returned to Hawai‘i for good in 2001. In addition to his community service, he has held key executive positions for Marriott to help build and expand its brand in the Hawaiian Islands. Prior to his current position, Tatum served as general manager of the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort on Maui, the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina, and the Waikīkī Beach Marriott Resort, where he also earned Marriott’s General Manager of the Year Award.

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