HTA Appoints Two Key Executive Leaders

December 10, 2018, 9:13 AM HST (Updated December 11, 2018, 8:04 AM)
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Keith Regan. Courtesy photo

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has appointed two key executive leaders, naming Keith Regan as chief administrative officer and Karen Hughes as vice president of marketing and product development.

Both will begin work on Dec. 17, 2018.

Regan and Hughes join newly appointed President and CEO Chris Tatum in guiding HTA forward in the fulfillment of its mission to support Hawai‘i’s tourism industry.

HTA’s mission states: To strategically manage Hawai‘i tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires and visitor industry needs.

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HTA Board Chair Rick Fried noted the executive search process to appoint a chief administrative officer and vice president of marketing and product development began on July 27. Dozens of candidates applied for each position. Two separate committees of HTA board members, one committee for each position, oversaw the process and reviewed the qualifications of each candidate, from which finalists were determined for Tatum to provide his input, leading to the selection of Regan and Hughes.

Fried noted, “With Keith Regan and Karen Hughes joining Chris Tatum, we have an outstanding executive team in place to lead HTA in doing the critically important work of supporting the Hawai‘i brand, marketing travel to the Hawaiian Islands, and managing tourism for the state of Hawai‘i.”

As chief administrative officer, Regan is responsible for overseeing HTA’s operations, including administrative and fiscal management functions relating to contracts, budget, program planning and effectiveness, information technology systems, and personnel, as well as all financial and management functions for the operation and maintenance of the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

Regan is relocating to O‘ahu from Maui where he has worked for the past 22 years, including 12 years with the County of Maui. Most recently he served as managing director for the County of Maui since January 2011. In that role, Regan was responsible for the management and oversight of the county’s operations, including the development, implementation and monitoring of policies and procedures to ensure the effective delivery of services to residents and visitors.

Among Regan’s key responsibilities for the county were being in control of the annual operating budget, assisting in the development of short- and long-term goals to improve the quality of life for communities, managing all tactical operations during an emergency or crisis situation, and developing action plans to resolve issues and ensure compliance in response to audits.

Karen Hughes. Courtesy photo

As vice president of marketing and product development, Hughes is responsible for supervising HTA’s initiatives and programs to support Hawai‘i tourism, including tourism marketing strategy and planning, tourism industry research, development of new experiences, and the administration and coordinated promotion of all tourism programs supporting leisure and group travel.

Hughes brings nearly 20 years of tourism sales and marketing experience in Hawai‘i to her new role at HTA, which includes serving as vice president of Meet Hawai‘i and travel industry partnerships for the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) from 2013 to 2015, and as regional vice president of sales and marketing in Hawai‘i for Starwood Hotels & Resorts from 2001 to 2006.

Hughes has extensive experience in Hawai‘i and on a global level leading marketing, sales, distribution, branding and growth management for multiple business and leisure travel industry sectors, including hotels, tour operators and retail. While at HVCB, Hughes successfully led a team in implementing a strategy focused on all matters relating to business-to-business sales and marketing programs.

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