Kusaka pays her own way to Chicago to promote Kaua’i

For the first time in nearly a decade, former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka is paying her own way for a trip to promote Kaua’i.

And Mayor Bryan Baptiste said he appreciates the gesture.

Kusaka is in the Windy City with a contingent that includes county tourism promotion coordinator Nalani Brun of the county Office of Economic Development and Margy Parker of the Po’ipu Beach Resort Association.

The event is the Chicago Adventure Show. At last year’s show, only Kaua’i had a presence among Hawai’i promotional groups, Parker said.

While information initially came to The Garden Island that Kusaka was under contract with the County of Kaua’i to promote the island, that is not the case, according to Cyndi Mei Ozaki, the county’s new public information officer.

There is no contract, and Kusaka is not getting paid, Ozaki said Friday.

“Maryanne Kusaka, as an individual, is one of the best ambassadors for Kaua’i,” Baptiste said. “There is no one better at promoting tourism on this island than the former mayor,” said the current mayor.

Baptiste during and after the mayoral campaign announced he would not travel to promote tourism to the island as much as Kusaka did during her eight years in office.

He also announced that Brun will cut back on traveling to tourism promotions once the county’s new fiscal year begins on July 1.

In the new fiscal year about $75,000 appropriated to OED for tourism promotions will instead be contracted out to a nonprofit organization. The exact dollar figure won’t be determined until Baptiste and the County Council finalize the county budget.

The Kaua’i Visitors Bureau plans to apply for the county tourism-marketing funds, said Sue Kanoho, KVB executive director.

While Baptiste has said he won’t travel as much as Kusaka did, he did say he would accompany visitor-industry folks when time comes to travel to Japan to promote Kaua’i, at the request of industry representatives, Kanoho said.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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