U.S. Sen. Barack Obama kicked back in Hawaii last week, and local tourism officials are thrilled with the exposure that their destination received as a result.
“Senator Obama's vacation in Hawaii generated a massive amount of coverage nationally and internationally,” said Hawaii tourism liaison Marsha Wienert. “Publicity like this is hard to quantify. However, the world took notice of him body surfing, playing golf, eating shave ice (Hawaii-style snow cones) and visiting some of our national monuments. The front page photos in national newspapers and on television highlighted Hawaii's many assets, and hopefully the publicity reinforced what a wonderful vacation place Hawaii is.”
Obama, who was born on Oahu, did many of the things a typical visitor would do on the island. He visited the USS Arizona Memorial and National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. He took his daughters to the snorkeling sanctuary of Hanauma Bay, bodysurfed at Sandy Beach and enjoyed a picnic with old friends at Honolulu's Ala Moana Beach Park.
"The press coverage around the world has just been massive," said Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau president John Monahan. "It came at exactly the right time for Hawaii with the tourism slump we're experiencing caused by the economic crisis and the oil situation. Clearly, we were hoping his visit here would have the positive aspect it had."