Two big events to boost Hawaii tourism

Tourism in Hawaii is starting 2014 with a bang. Thousands of people from across the globe are here for some fun in the sun.

“We are doing fabulous this week with PTC here and then the Pro Bowl coming in towards the end of the week,” said Jerry Gibson with the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

PTC is a conference of the Pacific Telecommunications Council and for the past 36 years, draws 1,600 delegates and their families from 70 countries to the islands for a 3.5-day event.

“We have satellite people here, undersea cables. We have cloud computing professionals,” PTC President Stephen Ho said.

Considered one of the premier technology networking events in the world, Hawaii is an ideal location to work and then extend the trip for some play.

“My girlfriend and I are going to go to Maui. We are going to watch the whales,” said Jackie Callari, a PTC attendee since 1983.

The annual conference is estimated to bring in $8.75 million in visitor spending each year.

“But I think the ultimate value of this meeting, it’s priceless that business transactions take place in Hawaii and we all benefit,” Hawaii Tourism Authority President & CEO Mike McCartney said.

On Sunday, the Pro Bowl kicks off at Aloha Stadium. With the state’s most recent visitor numbers showing a decline in visitors and spending, the big game is a welcome event for tourism officials.

“This creates a great opportunity for exposure for Hawaii. The Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl, so it gives us exposure to multiple markets across the country that we could never buy,” McCartney said.

January tourism numbers over the past couple years have steadily climbed. Officials predict growth this year, too.

“Our $1.4 billion in taxes for the hospitality industry could be the same or better this year, which is great. That was a record,” Gibson said.

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