World Leaders Head to Honolulu

Hawaii is chosen to host APEC in 2011.

By: By Marty Wentzel

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Michael Murray feels strongly that Hawaii is an ideal place to do business. As vice president of sales and marketing for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s (HVCB; department of corporate meetings and incentives, he makes that pitch on a daily basis. 

Honolulu will host the 2011 APEC Leaders Meeting. // (C) 2009 David Cornwell

Honolulu will host the 2011 APEC Leaders Meeting. // (c) 2009 David Cornwell

Murray’s message will get a ringing endorsement come November 2011, when President Obama and 20 top political leaders, along with more than 10,000 attendees, will convene in Honolulu for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting, the first APEC in the U.S. since 1993.

“Too often, people outside Hawaii see a convention or meeting held in the islands as a thinly veiled excuse to vacation on the company’s nickel,” said Murray. “As with any host destination, attendees make time to enjoy Hawaii’s offerings by taking part in pre- and post-conference activities. That doesn’t change the fact that Hawaii is a world-class business destination with the infrastructure, facilities, professionalism and resources to get serious business done and make any meeting a success,” said Murray.

While the summit will be held in Honolulu, all of Hawaii’s major islands stand to gain from the meeting. But the biggest beneficiary, said Murray, will be Hawaii’s image as a global gathering place and host to business meetings with far-reaching impact. The selection of Hawaii carries additional significance because Obama was born in Honolulu and spent many of his formative years there.

“The fact that the President is inviting his counterpart leaders to his native town is taken in many cultures as showing guests the highest respect,” said Charles Morrison, president of the East-West Center, a Honolulu-based education and research organization.

“Securing the 2011 APEC meeting is a significant accomplishment for Hawaii as we continue to expand our state’s strategic role as a leader in the Asia-Pacific region,” said
Hawaii governor Linda Lingle.

To encourage other groups to consider Hawaii as a viable meeting location, the HVCB has extended its Added Value Resource Center through 2011. The initiative, introduced in February, contains seven cost-saving and incentive programs for groups provided by destination management companies.

“Feedback from planners on the impact of these programs has been extremely favorable,” said Murray. “In the current economy, keeping the industry motivated to book Hawaii has been a top priority, and these programs are a huge help.”