Triathlon events to give tourism a boost
Hawaii will host three of the sport's largest competitions this month
Three weeks of top triathlon events, beginning with the JAL ITU World Age Group Triathlon Championships this Sunday, could kick Hawaii's softer fall tourism season into high performance.
Triathlon enthusiasts from around the world are expected to add to the state's visitor counts throughout the month as they gather for three of the sport's biggest championships, including the JAL world championships on Sunday in Honolulu, the Ford Ironman World Championships on Oct. 15 in Kona on the Big Island and the Nissan Xterra World Championships on Oct. 23 on Maui.
"The convergence of these events positions the state favorably and attracts active lifestyle tourists," said Frank Haas, marketing director for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
The number of participant sports events in Hawaii has increased in recent years.
The state tourism authority has begun to aggressively target active lifestyle tourists, who tend to spend more when they visit, said Mike Story, the HTA's newly-hired sports events manager.
Participant sports events have been identified as a way for the state to attract more visitors during its spring and fall off-peak seasons, Story said.
These days the click-clack of the bike shoes worn by JAL world championship competitors can be heard all over Duke's Canoe Club in Waikiki, said general manager Ross Anderson.
"This is traditionally a little slower time, but we've had a bump in business since the British team arrived," Anderson said. He's had to increase staffing to accommodate higher meal counts.
The British team, which has boosted business at the Outrigger Reef Hotel, is only part of the more than 2,000 athletes from nearly 50 countries that are on Oahu this week for the JAL world championship.
"We estimate that each participant will bring an average of three guests, who will stay at least seven nights," said John Korff, president of Korff Enterprises, a New York-based company that is organizing the events.
Organizers of the JAL world championship estimate the event will generate more than $20 million for the Honolulu economy as triathlon enthusiasts purchase hotel rooms, meals and souvenirs of their stay, Korff said.
Large and small-scale businesses in Waikiki, from hotels to plate lunch operators, have seen an uptick in revenues.
"We even sponsored a Sunset on the Beach and guaranteed food providers that we would buy 3,000 meals," Korff said.
This is the first time the JAL event has been held in Hawaii and the first time all three events have been held in one location, he said. "Together they will have a huge economic impact on Hawaii," Korff said.
The media and entertainment TV coverage of these events also will help Hawaii realize economic benefits that go way beyond direct visitor spending, Korff said.
"Our race will be broadcast internationally in 72 countries," Korff said. "It will also air on the Outdoor Life Network in the United States."
The coverage of athletes competing in sunny, exotic Hawaii is expected to boost enrollment for other races such as the JAL Honolulu Triathlon, which is slated for May 28, he said.
"There's no reason that Hawaii shouldn't be the capital of triathlons -- it has everything that the athletes are looking for: warm weather, natural beauty, water and mountains," Korff said.