a bonanza for
Visitors to the isles andBy Peter Wagner
national TV exposure are
expected to be worth
$45 million to the state
WAIKIKI is brimming with football players and a huge entourage of fans, cheerleaders, and media -- a $45 million Christmas present for Hawaii's moping tourism industry.
An estimated 16,000 visitors are here for the Jeep Aloha Bowl and Oahu Bowl, a doubleheader to be broadcast nationally from Aloha Stadium on Christmas Day.
Experts calculate they will spend about $25 million on hotels, meals and entertainment. And national media exposure -- including mainland advertising and broadcast coverage of the weekend games -- could be worth $20 million by some estimates.
"Hawaii gets big international exposure, Hawaii businesses get increased visitor spending and marketing opportunities, sponsors and advertisers get massive exposure, and everybody gets to enjoy an exciting day of football," said Stanley Hong, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.
Arizona State will play Wake Forest in the Aloha Bowl, followed by the University of Hawaii vs. Oregon State in the Oahu Bowl.
Enjoying the bonanza along with other hotel operators is Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, with all three of its Waikiki properties booked for the week.
"It's a tremendous business opportunity for us," said Cheryl Williams, director of leisure and marketing at Sheraton. "It gives us a big boost before the traditional holiday period."
About 3,000 to 4,000 players and guests are at the Sheraton Waikiki, Sheraton Moana and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, she said.
"Not only does it bring room business but also food and beverage business," Williams said. "And it adds some excitement for our other guests in the hotels."
The windfall is particularly welcome, Williams said, because "Y2K" fears have cut holiday expectations. While the period between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 is usually sold out at the company's Waikiki hotels, there are vacancies this year.
The Aloha Bowl is to be televised by ABC-TV and the Oahu Bowl by ESPN. Lenny Klompus, CEO of Bowl Games Hawaii, anticipates 27 million viewers.
"It's the only game that gives Hawaii eight hours of live television," Klompus said. "We go from ABC to ESPN on Christmas day. It's huge numbers."
Pre-game advertising and game coverage will expose Hawaii to travel markets, in Portland, Ore., Phoenix, and Greensboro, N.C. Bowl Games Hawaii is paying the four participating teams a minimum of $750,000 each to play.
According to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, westbound travelers last year spent an average of $157 a day and stayed for 10 days. Based on an estimated 16,000 visitors -- players, fans, entertainers and others -- about $25 million would be generated in direct spending. About $2 million of that would go into state tax coffers.