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Jehovah's Witness convention to generate $100M in spending


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POSTED: Thursday, November 12, 2009

About 24,000 Jehovah's Witnesses from around the world are expected to spend about $100 million in the state when they meet at the Hawaii Convention Center on the next two weekends, said David Uchiyama of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The event will “;definitely be one of the biggest of the year,”; said Uchiyama, vice president of tourism marketing.

The spending estimate is based on a projection of 161,000 hotel room nights, ground transportation, food and other expenses for the delegates, he said. It also includes $9.5 million in total tax revenue.

“;The Jehovah Witnesses convention comes at a historically slow month (for tourism). This is a real opportunity to increase our revenue,”; Uchiyama added.

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Jehovah's Witnesses organizers expect the final number of delegates to climb over 30,000, with 7,000 to 8,000 Hawaii-based delegates added to the mix, said spokesman David Fitzgerald. Two sessions are scheduled from Nov. 19 through 22, and Nov. 26 through 29, as part of a series of international conventions in 33 major cities from June through December, Fitzgerald said.

The public is invited to attend sessions, and no collection will be taken, he said.

The theme, “;Keep on the Watch,”; deals with biblical prophecies being fulfilled.

Delegates are coming from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States.

“;Local Oahu residents extended real aloha by paying for accommodations and transportation for 22 delegates from the Solomon Islands,”; he added.

Parts of the program will be presented in English, Japanese, Ilocano, Spanish, Samoan, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Chuukese, Marshallese and American Sign Language.

“;Simultaneous foreign language sessions will be presented, almost like the U.N.,”; Fitzgerald said.

For information on the convention schedule, visit http://www.jwhic.org or call David Fitzgerald at 651-9996.