In late 1995, the Rotary Club of Honolulu became aware that Hawaii had no Travelers Aid or similar organization dedicated to ensuring visitors of crime and other adversities were receiving appropriate follow-up assistance and Aloha. Recognizing the negative impact that crime against visitors was having on our tourism industry, the Rotary Club of Honolulu, with cooperation of Honolulu Police Department, established a volunteer Visitor Aloha Committee. The Rotary Club of Honolulu Board of Directors unanimously voted to provide $10,000.00 in seed money and other support necessary for the establishment of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, also known as VASH. The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii was recognized as exempt from Federal income tax, under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in August 1998.
The Rotary Committee was headed by Darrell Large, who became the first President of VASH. Some of the early supporters of VASH included the Mayor’s office, the City Prosecutor’s office, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Waikiki Improvement Association, the Merchants Association, the Crimes Against Tourists Task Force, the Japanese Consulate, and other government, business and community leaders such as Mufi Hannemann, Marvin Silverman (Founding Chairman of VASH), Lee Donohue (Honolulu Police Department), Murray Towill (Hawaii Hotel Association), Warren Ferreira (Outrigger Enterprises Group), Seiji Naya (Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism), Senator Les Ihara, and then Governor Ben Cayetano.
In the beginning, VASH was a statewide organization based in Honolulu. It later branched out with individual chapters located on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui and Kauai.
(Revised at VASH Board Meeting, August 27, 2013)
While Hawai‘i still remains among one of the safest tourist destinations in the world, and our police and prosecutors do a fantastic job within the scope of available resources, we unfortunately will never prevent all crime against visitors. We must therefore ensure that each and every traumatized visitor receives timely assistance and experiences the true aloha spirit of our people.
VASH has demonstrated that committed and well-trained volunteers offer the most efficient and cost-effective way of delivering that service. The citizens of Hawai‘i are well aware of the enormous negative impact that crime is having on our visitor industry, our state economy, and the future of our children and grandchildren. We are not only concerned but want something done about it. Thousands of people are willing, given the opportunity, to volunteer to reach out to these victims with caring aloha. VASH provides them with that opportunity. It is simply a matter of aloha, which is, after all, what most visitors come to Hawai‘i for in the first place. We the people, our government, and visitor industry leaders cannot afford to disappoint them.
The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai’i is a private, 501(c)(3) Non-Profit, Volunteer organization that is dedicated to sharing the Aloha Spirit with Visitors. Its funding comes from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.