George Szigeti officially started his new position yesterday as the president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency.
“We are pleased to welcome George as the new president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority,” said Aaron Sala, HTA board chair. “Our board is confident that his extensive business background and experience will make him an effective leader in ensuring a sustainable tourism economy for the state.”
“It is an honor and a privilege to have been selected by the HTA board of directors to lead the state’s tourism agency,” said George Szigeti, HTA’s president and CEO. “There are a lot of people, not only in the industry but throughout our communities, who are impacted by tourism. They rely on us as an industry and as an agency to support one of Hawaii’s largest economic drivers. I look forward to working with our staff, partners, government and community leaders to balance and maintain success for the industry and the state.”
Prior to joining the HTA, Szigeti served as the president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association (HLTA), a statewide organization representing hotels, condominiums, timeshares and other visitor industry entities. During the three years under his leadership, HLTA reorganized its operations to enhance efficiency and productivity. As a result, Szigeti and his team helped to increase the organization’s membership by 24 percent, grow its fundraising efforts through the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk to a record $1.87 million, and enhance member and community participation in its Na Poe Paahana (which recognizes visitor industry employees) and Citizenship Awards (which recognizes outstanding students from high schools statewide).
In his role with HLTA, Szigeti supported business interests of Hawaii’s visitor industry through an active involvement with the Hawaii State Legislature and Honolulu City Council. In addressing economic and social issues affecting the visitor industry, Szigeti led the formation of the Waikiki Homeless Outreach Program in collaboration with the Institute for Human Services (IHS), which helps to provide compassionate solutions to homelessness in Waikiki.
From 1997 to 2012, Szigeti served as the president and CEO of the Hawaii operations for Better Brands Ltd., one of the nation’s largest wholesalers and distributors of beer, wine and distilled spirits. He began his professional career in Hawaii in 1982, launching the local operations for E. & J. Gallo Winery and serving as the state manager.
As an active community member, Szigeti has worked with various organizations that help support business and travel for Hawaii. He currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Hawaii Bowl and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Previously, he has also served as Chairman of the Hawaii Food Industry Association, President of the Hawaii Liquor Wholesalers Association, and as a Board Member of the Hawaii Foodbank, Hawaii Restaurant Association, and Hale Aina Ohana, which supports Hawaii’s young chefs.
Szigeti replaces interim CEO Ronald Williams, former board chair of the HTA, who assumed the position in December 2014, following the departure of Mike McCartney. McCartney served as the HTA’s president and CEO since 2009 until being selected by Governor David Ige to serve as his chief of staff.
Established in 1998, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency, is responsible for strategically managing tourism to optimize benefits for Hawaii that integrate the interest of visitors, the community and visitor industry. Tourism is the state’s leading economic driver and largest employer and the HTA continually works to ensure its sustainability well into the future. For more information on the HTA, please visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org