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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hawaii businesses likely to lose sales during APEC summit

By Alan Yonan Jr.
Advertiser Staff Writer

Some local businesses could experience a decline in sales as a result of blocked streets and other security measures associated with next year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu, visitor industry officials cautioned yesterday.

However, they were quick to add that they believe the opportunity to market Hawai'i to the world as a serious place to come and do business will outweigh any short-term inconveniences caused by the 11-day conference scheduled for November.

The meeting will bring in an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 participants, including heads of state from 21 Pacific Rim countries, government ministers, economic advisers, business leaders, security personnel, global media and others.

Sharon Weiner, vice president of global communications for retailer DFS Group, said the company's store in Singapore's famed Orchard Road shopping district took a hit when this year's APEC summit was hosted there.

"When I told our top brass about APEC coming here, they said it really killed our business in Singapore at the Orchard Road store. It will be a difficult time for some businesses here," said Weiner, who is on the Hawaii Tourism Authority's board of directors.

"But that will be short-term pain for a huge long-term gain," she said during a discussion at the HTA's monthly board meeting yesterday.

DFS has outlets in Waikīkī, the Hilton Hawaiian Village and at the Honolulu and Kahului airports.

Local media in Singapore reported last fall that some restaurants and other retailers there experienced sales declines anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent at the peak of the APEC summit.

While some businesses may see a slowdown during the conference, the event will generate opportunities for others, said Mike McCartney, HTA president and chief executive officer.

"We're not focusing on that, however. You can't look at this as a single event. This will change the way people view Hawai'i forever," he said.

State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said the conference is a chance to transform the image of Hawai'i from a sun-and-fun destination to a place where business also can be conducted.

"This is something we have been unsuccessful with for many years, and it will continue to be a challenge," she said. "We can use this to position Hawai'i as a link between the East and West. We have the opportunity of a lifetime."

The conference will include a series of meetings, beginning with an "informal senior officials meeting" this December at the East-West Center and concluding with the leaders' meeting, or summit, in November 2011 at the Hawai'i Convention Center, said Muriel Anderson, HTA's senior adviser and liaison for APEC. No firm dates have yet been set for any of the meetings, she said.