‘Wheel of Fortune’ to boost Hawaii tourism, economy and education

'Wheel of Fortune' filming at Hulihee Palace, Kona

After more than 30 years on television, “Wheel of Fortune” has landed in the islands again.

The cast and crew are back on the road and, for the fifth time, will broadcast taped episodes from Hawaii.

“It’s a very well-known show and its been on TV for a long time,” said Hawaii Island visitor Shirley Roberts.

“For the people back on the mainland, a lot of them have been here and a lot of them haven’t,” said co-host Pat Sajak. “They can kind of live their vacation through us, and so while we play the game, we look to show off the state and we have enjoyed doing that.”

With 30 million people watching “Wheel of Fortune” around the world, it’s sure to make an economic impact in Hawaii.

“With these beautiful islands and we shoot a lot of these beauty shots for people to see some of the things that we love about Hawaii,” Sajak said.

“Ultimately we leave prizes here in the form of cash and other prizes, trips and that kind of thing, but we also have an economic impact in that we hire huge numbers of local skilled crew and staff and support people,” said supervising producer Steven Schwartz.

Seventy people from the mainland were sent over to help with pre-production. When they come back in the fall, that number will increase to more than 260 people and add to that over 200 local workers, “not to mention the shipping, the airlines and the hotels,” Schwartz added.

“I don’t think Hawaii needs help with tourism, it’s just so beautiful here, but sure I think it could help,” said Texas resident Carol Devall.

In addition to the exposure and the millions of dollars pumped into Hawaii’s economy from money spent in the islands, producers hope to create learning and potential job opportunities for students as well.

“What we like to do is bring in kids from community colleges and places that are studying film and television and allow them to see how it works behind the scenes,” Schwartz explained. “Anytime we can come here, we love to do it. We love to bring the show here.”

“Wheel of Fortune” will return to the islands this summer to cast local contestants for the show. Oahu residents have a few more weeks to get their audition videos in.

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