The return of the Hawai‘i Hotel &Restaurant Show this week is a positive sign that statewide business and travel is normalizing, and its success is expected to spur additional activity.
The event, which will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, is among the first major Honolulu public events since Friday’s lifting of face-mask and other COVID-19 mandates. The show, which debuted in 2019, was on hiatus for two years like many other events in Hawaii.
Mufi Hannemann, Hawaii Lodging &Tourism Association president and CEO, said, “The Hawai‘i Hotel &Restaurant Show is important because it will be the first large, local structured meeting or event held in Hawaii in a long time. Hosting a successful show will signal to the rest of the country and the world that Hawaii is ready to host large events, meetings and conventions again. It will also demonstrate that this type of event can be put on safely and effectively for all who are involved.”
Teri Orton, general manager of the Hawai‘i Convention Center, said the event is one of several larger local events at the venue that are being held this spring as restrictions are lifted. The center is managed by ASM Global.
“Local events are a big part of our schedule this year, as many groups opted to postpone gatherings over the past two years,” Orton said.
Orton said as restrictions are lifted, demand for meetings and events continues to grow from local groups and citywide meetings alike. Orton said state and county employees and visitors to state facilities including the Hawai‘i Convention Center are no longer required to provide vaccination status or negative COVID-19 test results, and masks will not be required for event attendees.
“Citywide meetings and incentives have a longer lead time, so we anticipate growth in this area over the next several years, with a stronger presence in the meantime from local events that were postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
The nearly sold-out Hawai‘i Hotel &Restaurant Show is made possible through partnerships between HLTA, the Hawaii Restaurant Association and Star Events, a division of Oahu Publications Inc., which publishes the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. It’s expected to bring together a few thousand attendees from restaurant, hotel and hospitality industries and schools with the businesses that support their needs.
Dennis Francis, president and publisher of the Star- Advertiser, said in a statement, “Working closely with our partners, Hawaii’s newspaper is focused upon getting good news and information to the community.
“We continue to assist HLTA and HRA with ongoing recovery efforts and the return of this important industry event. The show is an all- inclusive resource bringing the best of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim together,” Francis said. “It can’t be missed by those working in the relevant industries.”
More than 112 exhibitors, from Hawaii, Japan and the U.S. mainland will fill 200 booths at the event, which kicks off with a blessing at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and includes educational seminars.
Hannemann said, “Trade show organizers have been reporting a growing sense of excitement in both exhibitors and pre-registered attendees, which is a promising sign that our second annual show is poised to be a huge success.”
UHA Health Insurance, an event sponsor, will provide musical entertainment and a continental breakfast from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. each day of the event.
Another event sponsor, Sysco Hawai‘i, will have a pavilion with 28 booths showcasing the latest in food products.
Participants should bring reusable water bottles, as Pepsico will be demonstrating their SodaStream Professional in booth 104 and many water companies, such as Menehune Water, Volcanic Water, Hawaiian Cool Water and Waiea Water, will provide water fill-ups.
Hawaii Robotics, which will occupy booths 126 and 127, will show off delivery robots that can provide labor alternatives to restaurants, hotels and medical clinics.
Among the other beverage companies in attendance are Paradise Beverage, Republic National Distributing Company, The Odom Corporation, Coca Cola, Hawaii Coffee Company and Big Island Roasters.
Sustainable Island Products, a Hawaii-based distributor, will show off their eco- friendly, compostable and recyclable alternatives to everyday single-use items in booths 224 to 325.
Indonesian Trade Promotion Company of Los Angeles, an event sponsor, will show off furniture and other products from Indonesia in booths 800 to 902.
VEDGEco will offer samples of plant-based meats, dairy and eggs in booths 1009 to 1011.
ABC Corporation is providing UVC units in the hall to keep the air purified and virtually free of bacteria and viruses. They will also spray attendees’ phones with a protective barrier in booths 1100 and 1101.
Tom Jones, past chairman of the Hawai‘i Restaurant Association and president and co-owner of REI Food Service LLC, dba Gyotaku Restaurants, said attendees can expect unique new products from vendors, educational seminars by industry experts, live demonstrations and the latest trends in information technology.
“Hawaii’s restaurants and hospitality industry will emerge from the pandemic crisis stronger than ever,” Jones said in a statement. “We look forward to the second Hawai‘i Hotel and Restaurant Show acting as a key indicator of Hawaii’s resiliency.”
Admission is free, but attendees must preregister online and be approved prior to arrival.
Convention Center parking rates apply; however, Domino’s Hawaii, an event sponsor, is offering discounted parking validation at booths 1105 and 1106 while supplies last. They’ll also have pizza to sample.
To preregister or for more details and updates, visit HawaiiHotelAndRestaurant Show.com. Call Star Events at 808-529-4850 with any questions or for additional assistance.
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