Yesterday, Governor Linda Lingle presided over the official opening of “Hawai‘i Week” at the USA Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.  The Governor began the day with a briefing from Ambassador Jose H. Villarreal, the United States Commissioner General for the World Expo.  Ambassador Villarreal reviewed the efforts that went into attracting the private sector support necessary to construct and operate the USA Pavilion.

Governor Lingle was joined by Ambassador Villarreal; Deputy Principal Officer Christopher Beede from the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai; Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority; House Speaker Calvin Say; Senator Donna Mercado Kim; and other dignitaries for the official ribbon cutting that marked the beginning of Hawai‘i Week.  A delegation of over 60 people from Hawai‘i, including government officials, private businesses and entertainers, are in Shanghai to showcase the 50th state and the many attractions Hawai‘i has to offer Chinese visitors, as well as opportunities in trade, investment and study abroad at Hawai‘i colleges and universities.

Governor Lingle also had the opportunity to address over 100 Chinese journalists and media representatives who are in key positions to promote travel to Hawai‘i.  She also did one-on-one media interviews with key newspapers such as the Shanghai Daily and China Tourism News.

“I hope you will take with you a sense of the desire we have in Hawai‘i to welcome visitors from China and extend to them the warmth and hospitality that have been the hallmarks of our State,” Governor Lingle told the Chinese media.

The Governor noted in her comments that Chinese visitors are the fastest growing market in Hawai‘i, up 23 percent during the first quarter of 2010.  She also pointed out that Chinese visitors are the highest spending visitors, averaging $312 per day. The opportunities for additional visitors from China in the future is very significant given that only 3 percent of the Chinese population will travel abroad this year.

Yesterday’s “Hawai‘i Day” festivities featured performances of hula and Hawaiian music throughout the day that attracted overflow crowds.

The official count of visitors to the Expo for Tuesday, June 8 had already surpassed 491,000 by 5:00 p.m. (China time) and was projected to top half a million before the end of the evening.  The Expo organizers estimate 70 million people will attend the 2010 World Expo during the six months it is held in Shanghai.

In separate meetings, Hawai‘i agriculture officials met with their Chinese counterparts to promote fresh and processed agricultural products from Hawai‘i.  Among those participating in the meetings were Dr. Ching Yuan Hu of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; Duane Okamoto, deputy director, Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture; and representatives from the Hawai‘i Export Nursery Association and the Hawai‘i Tropical Flowers Council.

Today, Governor Lingle is promoting Hawai‘i exports at the World Trade Center Pavilion as part of World Trade Association Day.  The Governor will also tour the China Pavilion and meet with Mr. Zhao Zhenge, a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i, who serves as deputy director general of the China Pavilion.

Governor Lingle is also scheduled to meet with Chinese business executives at an “Invest in Hawai‘i” seminar coordinated by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.  The seminar is designed to provide potential investors with information on Hawai‘i’s economic outlook and investment climate, as well as the State’s immigrant investment program in which foreign nationals investing in businesses that create 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers can obtain permanent residency.

Today wraps up the Governor’s four-day stay in Shanghai.  Tomorrow she will travel to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hawai‘i-Guangdong sister-state-province relationship.  She and Guangdong Governor Huang Hua Hua will sign a memorandum of understanding to extend this important relationship for the next 25 years to foster continued trade, investment, education and cultural partnerships between Hawai‘i and Guangdong.  The Governor will be joined by the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i and the 2010 Narcissus Queen Tour.

Additional updates and photos of the Governor’s economic mission to China can be found on Governor Lingle’s website at www.hawaii.gov/gov

By Russell Pang, chief of media relations for the governor

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