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Hawaii Tourism Authority Board of Directors to Extend President and CEO Offer to John De Fries

August 31, 2020 Appointments / Movers & Shakers No Comments Email Email

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Board of Directors today unanimously voted in favor of making an offer to John De Fries to become HTA’s new president and CEO.

Born and raised in Waikiki, De Fries has more than 40 years of professional experience in the tourism and resort development industries. His visitor industry experience includes serving as executive director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. He is also president and principal advisor for Native Sun Business Group, a business consulting and project management firm that focuses on Hawaii’s hospitality and real estate development industries.
“The board felt John would do an excellent job as HTA’s new president and CEO having generational roots in Hawaii and given his vision for the future, which is so needed in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HTA board chair Rick Fried.
HTA received over 300 applications for the position. Honolulu-based executive search and staffing firm Bishop & Company assisted with the process. A committee of six HTA board members and three community members reviewed the qualifications of the applicants before narrowing the list down to a group of nine finalists for interviews. The full HTA board interviewed the final two candidates today when the meeting went into executive session.
De Fries previously lead the Department of Research and Development for the County of Hawaii, a division responsible for stimulating economic growth in sectors including tourism, agriculture and renewable energy. Prior to that, he served as president and CEO of Hokulia, a luxury residential community on Hawaii Island. De Fries serves on numerous boards, including Kualoa Ranch, Bishop Museum and the Keahole Center for Sustainability.
If De Fries accepts the offer, he would become the first Native Hawaiian to serve as HTA’s president and CEO.

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