President Obama couldn't help his adopted hometown of Chicago land the 2012 Summer Olympics, but he came through for Honolulu, the city of his birth, last week.
During his Nov. 15 remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders summit held in Singapore, Obama announced that "when America hosts APEC in a few years, I look forward to seeing you all decked out in flowered shirts and grass skirts, because today I'm announcing that we are bringing this forum to my home state of Hawaii in 2011."
Prevailing in the face of stiff competition from the likes of New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Hawaii's tourism officials certainly weren't hiding their excitement.
"We are thrilled that the president selected Hawaii as the host site for the 2011 meeting," state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said in a statement. "Through the years Hawaii has emphasized its strategic geographic location as the place 'where east meets west' and where serious business can be conducted. The selection by the president to host APEC in Hawaii affirms this positioning and builds on the foundation that we have established over the years."
Along with an invaluable dose of global exposure, current estimates put the total number of APEC summit attendees around 10,000, which will certainly help fill Oahu hotels and increase visitor spending during a traditionally slow mid-November period. Perhaps even more importantly, however, Hawaii's tourism officials are hopeful that the APEC summit will also help dismiss what has long been labeled "the boondoggle effect," or the notion that Hawaii isn't a location where legitimate business meetings can occur.
"The APEC meetings will dispel that misconception and position Hawaii as a global business destination," Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO, said in a statement. "With APEC leaders from 21 Pacific Rim nations gathered on the island of Oahu, the world will see that Hawaii is an ideal place to conduct business due to our strategic location in the Pacific and our multicultural diversity."
President Bill Clinton hosted the first APEC summit near Seattle in 1993, and 2011's event, scheduled for Nov. 12 through 20, will be the first time the meetings have been held on American soil since. The 2010 summit will be held in Japan.