Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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APEC summit expected to bring $120M

The event is touted as key to establishing the isles as a crossroads of the Asia-Pacific region

By Allison Schaefers


The 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which is slated to bring its 21 member economies to Hawaii next year, is expected to generate some $120 million in economic impact for Hawaii while establishing the destination as a crossroads of the Pacific. 

Peter Ho, chairman of the APEC 2011 Hawaii Host Committee, shared the first public economic estimates of the event yesterday during a keynote speech to the Friends of the East-West Center at the Halekulani Hotel. During the speech, Ho talked about APEC's expected impact on Hawaii and the Pacific, and sought additional funding for the event. Hawaii organizers have raised about half of the $3 million needed to operate and market the event, he said. Contributions, which are on schedule, have come from the private sector and from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said Ho, chief executive officer of Bank of Hawaii.

"Every door that we knock on is interested and excited about the event and participating in it," he said.

The APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, which will take place in Honolulu on Nov. 12 and 13 next year, is expected to bring about 15,000 world government and business leaders and an entourage including support staff, security, media, and friends and family to the isles. The event, which is the first APEC summit to be held in the United States since 1993, could fill as many as 120,600 Hawaii hotel rooms in what is traditionally the state's off-season.

APEC will provide a tangible boost to Hawaii's visitor industry, but more importantly, Ho said it will provide an opportunity for the state to realize its long-lived goal of becoming the true Asia-Pacific crossroads for business and cultural exchange that was envisioned by author James A. Michener in his 1959 book "Hawaii."

While Ho said that Hawaii has yet to become a "true crossroads of the Asia-Pacific," he said that dealing with the APEC economies will give the destination a chance to shine as a place to vacation and do business.

"Think of the possibilities that we will have by positioning ourselves not just as a market for sun, sand and surf, but as a market where business and cultural exchange can occur," Ho said. "Think about how that will augment the visitor industry."

Because APEC economies represent 44 percent of the global trade, 54 percent of the global gross domestic product and 40 percent of the world's population, Ho said it's a good opportunity for Hawaii's visitor industry and business community to reach emerging markets.

"It's an incredible opportunity for Hawaii, and for Honolulu in particular, to make sure that the word gets out that this is a tremendous place to do business," said Revell Newton, complex director of sales and marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Waikiki. "As people see firsthand that everything that they believe to be true in Hawaii is, that can only lead to good things for everyone in the future."

While a regular citywide conference would typically gather at Hawaii's major-brand hotels, APEC delegations will fill hotels throughout the island, said Ben Rafter, president and CEO for Aqua Hotels & Resorts.

"It's good for the beachfronts like Hilton and smaller, midpriced hotel chains like Aqua," Rafter said.

Peter Shaindlin, chief operating officer for the Halekulani Corp., said in the short term that APEC will fill Hawaii hotel rooms, create Hawaii jobs and increase revenue at businesses ranging from hotels to retailers to food and beverage and transportation companies . In the long term, APEC could drive revenue for decades as decision makers recognize Honolulu as a legitimate international city and book repeat business.

Miami's South Beach was transformed 10 to 15 years ago when large international meetings started to come, Shaindlin said. The sheer size and importance of APEC, which will bring President Barack Obama and his counterparts from other economies, could yield similar results for Honolulu, he said.

"This is the most significant meeting that I know of to date for the city," Shaindlin said. "Its residual benefits could stretch into the next decade."

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