President Barack Obama is steering some tourism trade and international attention to his native Hawaii in a couple of years.
The president said Sunday he will host the 2011 version of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hawaii. Obama announced his plans at the current APEC meeting being held in Singapore.
Obama told representatives of APEC’s 21 member nations that he looks forward to seeing them in flowered shirts and grass skirts.
APEC’s members include Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia and Vietnam.
Mike McCarntey, president & CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Association said:
“President Obama’s announcement that Honolulu, Hawai‘i has been selected as host site for the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meetings is exciting for our state, our residents and the visitor industry.
For decades Hawai‘i has struggled with the perceived boondoggle effect. The APEC meetings will dispel that misconception and position Hawai‘i as a global business destination. With APEC leaders from 21 Pacific Rim nations gathered on the island of O‘ahu, the world will see that Hawai‘i is an ideal place to conduct business due to our strategic location in the Pacific and our multi-cultural diversity.
The selection of Honolulu is positive news for the visitor industry with early estimates indicating that there will be approximately 10,000 APEC participants in attendance. In addition to the global exposure our state will receive, the meetings will provide a needed boost during the November shoulder period with an increase in arrivals, hotel occupancy and spending.
The HTA will work together with government, businesses, the visitor industry, the community, and other stakeholders to ensure that the 2011 APEC Leaders Meetings are a success.”
Juergen Steinmetz, president of the Hawaii Tourism Association and head of the tourism committee for the U.S Department of Commerce Export council stated: “I am pleased to learn Hawaii was selected for this event. HiTA with our international network of tourism ambassadors will do everything possible to use this opportunity and increase Hawaii’s exposure to new global tourism markets.”
The meeting here is seen as a coup for the state’s visitor industry as it underscores Hawai’i as a good site for international business gatherings, especially for the Asia-Pacific region.
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he was “ecstatic” that Honolulu had been selected to host the 2011 APEC Summit.
In addition to collaborating with the East-West Center and Hawai’i Tourism Authority on the proposal to host the conference, Hannemann said he lobbied for the effort in meetings with White House and State Department officials in June.
“When President Charles Morrison of the East-West Center first approached the city about collaborating on a proposal to host APEC, the key component was security,” Hannemann said, and Honolulu beat out the two California cities there.
“Honolulu, and all of Hawai’i for that matter, will be on the world stage come 2011, and it will be our opportunity to show that we’re more than sun, sand, sea, surf and the spirit of aloha,” Hannemann said.
Aside from the immediate economic impact, Morrison said it opens a new line of business over the longer term for the state as “a truly world-class international center.”
Gov. Linda Lingle said the selection of Hawai’i to host the APEC Leaders Meeting is “an affirmation of Hawai’i’s strategic role as a leader in the Asia-Pacific region, and will help build a stronger economic foundation for Hawai’i’s future.”
“We appreciate President Obama selecting Hawai’i for this important meeting and recognizing the significant role Hawai’i plays as America’s most diverse and strategically located state,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye also praised the selection.
“The spotlight that will shine on Hawai’i during the APEC meetings will remind the world that our culture and strategic location is the ideal site to gather global leaders and debate the needs of a diverse society,” he said.
Inouye said the state serves as a bridge between the East and the West, and “will help show our Asia-Pacific neighbors that the United States remains committed to collaborating on economic policy as the world emerges from international recession.”
San Francisco, the Los Angeles-Orange County area, New York and Miami were being considered as possible venues for the conference. Earlier, Hawaii Convention Center’s SMG general manager Joe Davis said the decision was narrowed to between Honolulu and the two California destinations weeks ago.