John De Fries has been named the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) new president and CEO, effective Sept. 16.
De Fries – who is the first native Hawaiian appointed as HTA’s president and CEO, and was chosen from a pool of more than 300 candidates – will replace Chris Tatum, who retired after a 40-year travel industry career on Aug. 31.
HTA Chief Administrative Officer Keith Regan is serving as interim president and CEO.
“Hawaii’s pathway to economic recovery and enhanced community well-being will require unprecedented levels of focus, collaboration, cooperation, coordination and unified executive leadership throughout all sectors,” De Fries said. “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, formerly headed the Department of Research and Development for the County of Hawaii, which is charged with stimulating economic growth in tourism, agriculture and renewable energy.
He has also served as CEO of Hokulia, a luxury residential community on Hawaii Island.
Additionally, De Fries held the position of executive director the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association and was the president and principal advisor for Native Sun Business Group, a business consulting and project management firm specializing in Hawaii’s hospitality and real estate development industries.
“All of us at HTA are looking forward to having John take the helm of Hawaii’s visitor industry,” said HTA Board Chair Rick Fried. “I was pleased to see that he has already become involved with working on ways that we can safely reopen tourism while keeping COVID-19 under control.”
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