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APEC will conclude at Ihilani resort in Ko Olina

Obama will gather top global economic leaders in West Oahu for the summit finale

By Andrew Gomes

LAST UPDATED: 7:03 p.m. HST, Oct 20, 2011

Waikiki will be center stage for activity surrounding November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the highest-profile meeting and finale of the seven-day event will take place about 25 miles away at Ko Olina.

The location for the premier gathering of heads of state from 21 world economies in the Asia-Pacific region means valuable exposure for another visitor destination on Oahu, but also will generate traffic delays and restrict access for some areas.

The White House announced Wednesday that the Nov. 13 leaders meeting hosted by President Barack Obama will be at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina Resort & Marina.

It also was announced that a Nov. 12 reception and dinner for the leaders will take place at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. Ministerial and senior officials' meetings will be in Waikiki at the Hawai‘i Convention Center along with an international press center, the White House said.

The APEC summit could bring as many as 20,000 government and business leaders, their family and friends.

An estimated 2,000 journalists are also expected to be among the contingent.

Most attendees have arranged to stay at Waikiki hotels during the event, which organizers expect will generate $120 million in local economic activity and better establish Hawaii as a crossroads of the Pacific.

The leaders meeting is expected to be one of the smaller meetings in terms of the number of participants, but it is the highest-profile meeting of the economic forum and is likely to involve the heaviest security measures.

Max Milien, a U.S. Secret Service spokesman, said the agency advises the general public to avoid areas affected by APEC if they can because there will be traffic tie-ups to ensure the safety of the leaders.

"If there is a need to be in the area, expect some delays," he said. "We are working with local law enforcement to minimize the impact for businesses and residents of the affected areas."

The leaders meeting in Ko Olina falls on a Sunday, which should make it easier for residents to avoid the area.

Milien said the Secret Service and the Honolulu Police Department will publicize traffic advisories related to APEC about two weeks before the event. Advisories won't be issued sooner because plans could change.

Tim Johns, vice chairman of a local host committee helping coordinate APEC functions, said holding the leaders meeting outside Waikiki will spread the benefits for businesses and tourism in general. "From the host committee's standpoint, we're pleased that the leaders will see more than just the Waikiki area," he said. "I think it'll be good for us."

Jack Legal, a Makakilo resident and member of the Makakilo/Kapolei/Ho­no­kai Hale Neighborhood Board, said he thinks the meeting's positive aspects will outweigh negative impacts. "It's good they're going to showcase this part of the island," he said.

Legal does have traffic concerns, but he said it's hard to assess them without knowing travel and meeting time details.

It's unclear when, and to what extent, roads leading to and within Ko Olina will be affected, or whether any parts of Ihilani or Ko Olina will be restricted.

Ihilani officials could not say whether hotel rooms, restaurants and other facilities will be open to guests and visitors when APEC leaders meet. Dan Banchiu, general manager of the 387-room property, said in a statement the hotel is honored to host the heads of state.

"We are looking forward to providing secure and functional venues for the event," he said. "To host a high-profile meeting of this caliber at our award-winning four-diamond luxury hotel will no doubt cast a limelight on the entire Ko Olina Resort as an extraordinary destination for group meetings."

Ko Olina has grown considerably in recent years with significant development of homes, beachfront condominiums and time-share towers.

A retail center continues to add tenants, and Disney's Aulani Resort is scheduled to open Aug. 29.

The APEC summit, which was last held in the United States in 1993, represents economies that account for 54 percent of global gross domestic product, 44 percent of world trade, and 61 percent of U.S. goods exports.

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