The following letters are in response to Anthony Pignataro’s May 17, 2012 cover story “This Year Terryl Vencl wants the County to give the Maui Visitors Bureau $3.5 million.”
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As a representative for an organization that received an Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) grant, also overseen by Teena Rasmussen’s county Office of Economic Development (OED), I find the assertion that there is no accountability patently absurd. The final reporting required not only an accounting of grant monies spent, but every dime that went through my organization’s hands.
Copies of every piece of collateral, forms, marketing, press coverage or anything made, said or produced by the organization must also be included. Photos and video of the product are required along with surveys of attendees, vendors and suppliers. Documentation does not take hours but weeks. And as Rasmussen said, no grant money is released without original invoices for the expenses expressly approved in the lengthy grant application process. While I recognize their (Maui County OED and HTA) fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers, as far as I’m concerned the reporting requirements are excessive. While I appreciate the support, I hope to never apply for another county or HTA grant. It was just too much work.
Comparing MVB to the Maui Hotel Association is also flawed. The hotel association lobbies for the hotel industry to a small audience of legislators, necessitating a small staff and a small budget. Since they serve a small group of private corporations, it is no wonder that it is privately funded.
MVB markets Maui for the good of us all, whether you like it or not. Ads in national publications don’t come cheap. I may not agree with everything they do–MVB did not support my event–but I still believe the job they do is important and should be funded by taxpayers. Maui’s three-legged stool of an economy is getting wobbly but the tourism leg is the one that keeps it steady. If I was on the council and the choice was to fund a new sports arena (really, a sports arena?) or MVB, I would vote for the latter. Hands down.
-Terrie Eliker, via Mauifeed.com
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Thank you for publishing the exposure article on Maui Visitors Bureau. Here are some more questions and some I do have the answers for.
Where is Maui Visitors Bureau? They are located in an industrial park where visitors cannot find them.
Why are they not in a tourist friendly location? They focus on assisting the visitors before they arrive on Maui by means of their website.
What hours are they open? I don’t know, but when I got there they were closed and they do not publish their hours on the door.
Why would MVB’s website still have a shopping article for a shopping center that was demolished in 2006-2007? “Promendade of over 20 boutiques, galleries located adjacent to the Kapalua Bay Hotel.”
Maui needs promotion by people who understand what visitors like to do and publish, assist and serve Maui best. They are lucky to get $3 million per year from HVB. Giving MVB 30 times more money has not made them efficient.
– Nancy Stewart, via email
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I had the pleasure of attending the Philadelphia Flower show as a Hawaii exhibitor and was in an adjacent booth to the MVB. They do an amazing and tireless job representing and promoting Maui. Any viable business knows the importance of marketing. Considering the economic value of visitor spending I’d say their budget is actually pretty low. Three cheers to Terryl and everyone else that works for the MVB. Keep up your good work and ignore the small minds who don’t “get it.”
I am tired of this writer’s constant negativity!
-Melanie Boudar, via Mauifeed.com
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I’m a local, been here for seven years. I love Hawaii. I love Maui. Love your paper. Don’t let it end–don’t ever let it end. I’m just calling about the article about Terryl Vencl.
Yeah–what’s up with her salary? A hundred thirty-five thousand dollars a year to do that? I love Maui: I would do her job for $35,000 a year! She’s just robbing Maui. Totally–you can quote me on that. I would do her job for $35,000 a year. I don’t care what it would take. She’s just lining her pockets and robbing all of us. She’s a reverse Robin Hood.
It’s just my opinion, of course, but I’m sure a lot of other people had that opinion when they saw her salary. A lot of people are making less than $35,000 doing harder jobs.
-Wayne Enger, via voicemail
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We got the phone number for No Ka Oi’s Horsemanship Summer Camp wrong in our May 24, 2012 Summer Guide. The number should read 808-214-2233. We regret the error.