Tourism leaders from Hawaiʻi were honored virtually at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Travel Industry Management (TIM School) 2021 “Celebrate a Legacy in Tourism” fundraising event on April 29. The event raised $180,000 and all proceeds will fund student scholarships at the TIM School.
This year’s honoree for the Legacy in Tourism award is Paul Kosasa, president and CEO of ABC Stores. Glenn Vergara, vice president and general manager of Waikiki Resort Hotel, received the TIM Alumni Hall of Honor award.
This year’s event was presented virtually adhering to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The program featured special video presentations of the honorees, a performance by the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra and remarks from UH President David Lassner and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi. Local entertainer Rodney Villanueva served as the emcee and the media sponsor was the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The event was co-chaired by Vicky Cayetano and Larry Rodriguez.
“We are grateful to Hawaiʻi’s travel and hospitality industry and business community for their support of our students,” Shidler College of Business Dean Vance Roley said. “With the shutdown of Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry over the past year, the TIM School lost a unique educational environment, which provided students with real-world experiences, professional engagements, and internships and career opportunities. The funds raised from the Legacy event will provide scholarships to promising students and help the school develop future leaders in the tourism industry.”
Since 1999, the Celebrate a Legacy in Tourism event has attracted more than 700 guests annually to honor distinguished alumni and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to their profession, to the TIM School and to the tourism industry in Hawaiʻi and throughout the world. This year, a special plaque will be displayed at the TIM School to recognize the donors of the Celebrate a Legacy in Tourism event.
A video of the event will be available on the TIM School website on May 7.
Legacy in Tourism award
Kosasa has been president and CEO of ABC Stores since 1999. Founded by his parents Sidney and Minnie Kosasa, the ABC Stores had a humble beginning as Thrifty Drugs in Kaimukī. The first ABC Store outlet opened in Waikīkī Beach in 1964 to focus on the growing tourism industry. Since taking over as president and CEO of ABC Stores, Kosasa has grown the “mom and pop store” to one of the most recognizable brands in Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry.
Founded on convenience and service, ABC Stores can be seen on every block in Waikīkī and throughout the major islands in the state. Kosasa later expanded the ABC brand to Guam, Saipan and Las Vegas, and added Island Gourmet Markets, Island Country Markets, Honolua Store (Maui), Sueoka Market (Kauaʻi), Lineage Restaurant (Maui) and Basalt Restaurant (Oʻahu). The company has more than 75 locations with more than 1,900 employees.
Kosasa also serves as the president of the Kosasa Foundation, a private foundation that provides grants for not-for-profit organizations and chairs the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra and the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association.
Alumni Hall of Honor award
Vergara, BBA ‘84, is vice president and general manager of Waikiki Resort Hotel. Vergara began his career at the highly acclaimed Mauna Kea Beach Hotel as a management trainee and was later promoted to assistant manager. This opportunity led to other management opportunities at the Ritz-Carlton Mauna Lani, the Executive Centre Hotel, Aston Hotels, the Makaha Resort & Golf Club and the Outrigger Reef Waikiki.
Vergara’s career in hospitality management spans 30 years and includes more than 22 years in a leadership or general management capacity. Vergara is committed to helping future generations of hospitality leaders succeed by continuing his support of the TIM School’s internship, scholarship and mentorship programs.
For more information, visit the TIM School website.