Marathon brings in $100M to isles
The estimate is based on interviews conducted to determine the marathon's economic impact
The 2005 Honolulu Marathon pumped more than $100 million into the local economy, the first island event ever to hit that mark, according to a Hawaii Pacific University study.
This places Honolulu second in economic impact from the nation's major marathons last year, behind only the New York Marathon, according to Honolulu race spokesman Pat Bigold.
Out-of-state participants in the Dec. 11 marathon and Race Day Walk, along with family members and friends who came to support them, spent an estimated $100,070,000 during their stay in Hawaii, generating $4.4 million in state tax revenues, not including the hotel room tax, the study said.
"In addition to the direct economic benefits of the Honolulu Marathon, the event will significantly improve international awareness of Hawaii as a sports tourism destination," said the study, being released today.
"The marathon obviously has a tremendous economic impact, the largest of any event in the state," said Dr. Jim Barahal, president of the Honolulu Marathon Association. "We're excited that the number has gone over $100 million."
The findings are estimates based on interviews with 1,385 visiting marathoners and walkers during the four days prior to the race. The interviews, including 971 with runners from Japan, were conducted by Hawaii Pacific students directed by Jerry and Wendy Agrusa, professors in the school's travel industry management program.
A total of 26,426 people from out of state registered for the race and walk, including 21,743 -- or more than 82 percent -- from Japan, according to marathon figures.
The survey found that the Japanese participants and supporters spent an average of $240 per day, while marathon visitors from other countries and the U.S. mainland spent about $150 per day. The increased Japanese spending can be explained partly by the tradition of "omiyage," buying small gifts for family and friends back home, Jerry Agrusa said.
Ninety percent of the Japanese runners said they would return to Hawaii to visit other than to participate in the marathon, according to the study. The $100 million extrapolation does not include any future expenditures by marathoners who might come back for other visits.
Barahal returned last week from Japan, where he met with sponsors and staff of the marathon's Tokyo office. "The interest is extremely strong in Japan, and we expect it will increase in coming years," he said.
Barahal said he does not think the economic figures will have an impact on critics, particularly residents living along the race route in the upscale neighborhoods of East Honolulu, who have complained about traffic congestion and delays.
"The people who complain will always complain," he said. "They speak for themselves and not for the community. The majority support us.
"Reasonable people will understand the need for these events," he added. "We need to rate these for value, and this (the study) is the objective way to do it."
The Honolulu Marathon Association paid for the study, but it was done independently by Agrusa and his team, Barahal said. "We don't direct it," he said.
This was the third year Agrusa conducted an economic impact study of the marathon, and spending by the visitors has increased each year, he said. Spending in 2004 totaled $90.7 million, he said.
The 2004 New York City Marathon, then the largest marathon in history, generated an estimated $150 million. While the economic impact figures for 2005 were not yet available, they are expected to be higher, Bigold said.