Religious conference will bring 26,000 here
The Hawaiian Convention Center has scored a coup in the competitive religious meetings category by booking two international meetings being organized by the Christian Congregation of the Jehovah Witnesses of Hawaii.
The Christian Congregation of the Jehovah Witnesses of Hawaii has committed to hold meetings at the center for Nov. 19-22 and Nov. 26-29 of next year, giving the center and state about a 26,000 boost in arrivals during what is typically a slow time.
The Jehovah Witnesses are hosting a series of conventions worldwide in 2009. The Hawaii event is expected to draw attendance from the mainland, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Fiji, Tahiti, Switzerland, Denmark and Germany.
Total statewide spending from the two-week event is expected to generate over $100 million and another $9.5 million in total statewide tax revenue. The convention center's hotel partners are expected to net 161,560 room nights from the event.
The group, which last held its international congregation event at the convention center in 2003, has set a state record in attendance for religious meetings, and also represents one of the largest overall gatherings, said Joe Davis, general manager for SMG, which runs the Hawaii Convention Center.
The largest gathering ever held at the center was the American Dental Association, which brought 30,000 people to Hawaii in 1999, Davis said.
Hawaii's reputation as an international gathering place and a resort destination gives it an advantage in the religious meetings arena, Davis said.
"We don't have to worry about the boondoggle affect with them," he said. "They are typically looking for a family destination so Hawaii's resort atmosphere is appealing to them."
The Hawaii Convention Center is already negotiating with the Jehovah's Witnesses to commit to a third trip to Hawaii and expects to sign a new contract during the event, he said.