BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD– Big events are critical for obscure regions because “they put them on the map.” Everyone knew Greece quite well before the 2004 Summer Olympics. The Olympics were a success. What did Greece gain in tourism? A minor temporary bump, if any. (And a whopping debt from infrastructure preparations.)
Mature tourist destinations do not have much to gain from large media exposure. At least the Olympics was a long sports event and many people watched it here and there. Do you think people in China, Russia, Australia and the US paid much attention to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation politicians?
Despite what hyperbola Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt Gov Brian Schatz serve for APEC, there will be very little gain for Hawaii from APEC. The tourist growth market for us hinges on visa rule relaxation for Chinese, Russians, etc. But that can be done only with prolonged bilateral negotiations.
So what did APEC 2011 do for the 99.9% of us?
- Cabbies were given hospitality training and told them to expect lots of fares. Hawaii News Now reported that they got much less than a regular day!
- The APEC name for Wai-kiki: Barrier-kiki or Fence-kiki.
- The beach was fenced off. Thankfully without barb wire.
- Congestion and security closures.
- And loss of business. Several small stores closed during APEC due to loss of access to them. Either the workers could not get to the store, or the customers were on the other side of the barricades.
- And now, a week after APEC, several small businesses plan to file claims and/or a lawsuit for significant business losses for a week. Of course one week or 1/52nd means very little to a callous politician. (Gov. and LG statements come to mind.) But that 2% annual loss is a big part of the profit margin for some businesses.
- And reallocation of emergency services.
- And political visitors who do NOT pay the hotel tax.
- And tremendous loss of tourism because agents did not book Waikiki for their clients.
- And lost bookings from the 11/11/11 wedding extravaganza.
- And mounting bills for security and other detail paid by local taxpayer.
- And all those APEC shirts, last minute beatifications, free tickets for the “in crowd,” etc.
- And the top two of Honolulu’s parks are police and security depots: Ala Moana and Kapiolani Parks.
- And one APEC-related murder. Auwe!
Sample UH alert below…