Hula dancers perform prior to the Pro Bowl game Feb 2. The event drew 18,000 tourists this year.
The Pro Bowl may have been a blowout this year, but it was a classic as far as the Hawaii Tourism Authority was concerned.
By Dave Segal
The annual National Football League all-star event, making its 24th appearance in the state, attracted 18,000 people who came to Hawaii exclusively for the game and spent $23.9 million, according to figures released yesterday by the state's tourism marketing agency.
A Market Trends Pacific survey commissioned by the HTA showed that 2,000 more people came to Hawaii exclusively for the game than did last year and generated $2.32 million in tax revenue. The visitors' average length of stay, however, was just 8.6 days, which is less than the typical 10.1 days used by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism when calculating its visitor numbers.
"The reason we invest in things like (the Pro Bowl) is to attract visitors to Hawaii and to get television exposure," said Frank Haas, HTA's director of tourism marketing. "We did the survey to determine how many visitors were influenced to come here for the game and what their characteristics were."
The state paid nearly $5.1 million to host the event this year, including $4.75 million to the NFL and local expenses.
Among the survey's findings taken at the Pro Bowl were that:
>> 74.6 percent of the visitors said the game was an important factor in visiting Hawaii.Indirect expenses, such as the NFL's costs, pumped an additional $8 million into the local economy, HTA said.
>> 89 percent made the decision to attend the game prior to arriving in Hawaii.
>> More than half of the respondents indicated they would likely not attend the Pro Bowl if it were held in Southern California or Florida.
>> 74 percent participated in activities like golf, tennis, biking and fishing while in Hawaii.
>> 73 percent visited attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center, Sea Life Park, Waimea Falls Park and the USS Arizona Memorial while in the state.
>> 33 percent planned a neighbor island trip while in Hawaii.
>> 50 percent of respondents have a household income of greater than $75,000.
"We're gratified that a significant number of people came to Hawaii to attend the Pro Bowl, and an event like this does drive travel," Haas said.
The game also attracted a 5.9 rating on ABC, indicating that 5.9 percent of all U.S. television households, or 9.1 million people, viewed the contest. The ratings were a 37 percent improvement over the previous year.
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