GOVERNOR LINGLE PROMOTES HAWAI‘I TOURISM, CLEAN ENERGY PARTNERSHIP, EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES IN CHINA
HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle has concluded a successful round of meetings in Beijing as part of the Administration’s ongoing strategic effort to strengthen the state’s long-term economy by promoting Hawai‘i as a visitor destination to China’s growing outbound tourism market, developing export opportunities for Hawai‘i products and services and forming partnerships in clean energy. Beijing was the first stop on the Governor’s six-city tour to promote economic development opportunities for Hawai‘i with one of the world’s most important emerging economies. Pictures are available at www.hawaii.gov/gov or by request.
Encouraging Chinese Tourism
During meetings in Beijing, the Governor focused on maximizing opportunities for Chinese tourists to travel to Hawai‘i. Her discussions with key Chinese and U.S. officials centered on two critical areas – expediting the application process for Chinese visitors traveling to the U.S. and preparing for the first nonstop scheduled airline service from China to Hawai‘i, which is expected to begin early next year.
The Governor met with Shao Qiwei, chairman of the China National Tourism Association (CNTA) to discuss the current state of China’s outbound tourism market – specifically travel to Hawai‘i. Governor Lingle and Chairman Shao exchanged ideas on what both Hawai‘i and China can do to increase the amount of Chinese tourists traveling to Hawai‘i. Chairman Shao also discussed the pending start of air service between Hawai‘i and China on Hainan Airlines, as well as the possibility of additional direct flights to meet the expected demand as more Chinese travel overseas. Hawai‘i stands to gain from this outbound tourism, especially since a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and China now allows Chinese citizens from a total of 21 provinces to visit the U.S. in tour groups.
This meeting builds on the ongoing partnership between Hawai‘i and CNTA to increase two-way travel between Hawai‘i and China. In 2006, Hawai‘i and CNTA entered a MOU as a result of Governor Lingle’s first meeting with Chairman Shao in 2005 during her first mission to China.
At the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Governor Lingle and U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman held wide-ranging in-depth discussions on expediting the process for group leisure travel visas to the U.S. Ambassador Huntsman confirmed that U.S. consular offices throughout China offer scheduled appointments and set aside specific times to process group leisure travel visa applications. To facilitate last-minute travel, which is especially important for Chinese travelers who want to participate in a conference or event in Hawai‘i, the embassy also offers a last-minute visa application process. In addition, at Governor Lingle’s request, the Ambassador and the chief of the consular section agreed to designate a point of contact at each consulate in China who Hawai‘i officials can work with to ensure that obtaining a U.S. travel visa is not an obstacle for Chinese to travel to Hawai‘i or the rest of the U.S.
Governor Lingle also addressed tourism industry leaders in China, including tour wholesalers, travel agents and airline executives. During discussions with the tourism officials, Governor Lingle and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Chairman Kelvin Bloom provided an update about the anticipated start of Beijing-Honolulu service on Hainan Airlines, as well as other efforts Hawai‘i tourism leaders are undertaking to prepare for Chinese visitors. Governor Lingle and Bloom also held a roundtable discussion and interviews with Chinese media, including travel and leisure writers, to promote Hawai‘i as a visitor destination.
Developing Clean Energy Partnerships
Governor Lingle met with officials from the China Academy of Engineering and the National Reform and Development Commission, two central government agencies responsible for China’s ambitious clean energy and emissions reduction plans, to exchange ideas on partnerships in renewable energy development and energy efficiency.
During the meeting, Chinese officials expressed to Governor Lingle that they view Hawai‘i as an ideal test bed where clean energy technologies and engineering solutions can be deployed, including the integration of renewable energy into the base-load power grid system. For China, the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, which seeks to have 70 percent of Hawai‘i’s energy come from clean sources by 2030, serves as a model as the Chinese strive to achieve their goal of 30 percent renewables by 2030.
To this end, the chairman of the China Academy of Engineering, Mr. Xu Kuangdi, agreed to co-sponsor the 2010 Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Summit & Expo that will be held in Hawai‘i next September, and to have a specific China focus as part of the conference. Also during the meeting, the head of China’s wind energy association agreed to explore deployment of China's new wind turbine technology in partnership with wind project developers in Hawai‘i.
Promoting Hawai‘i Products and Services
Governor Lingle received a briefing on the plan by the China Ministry of Commerce and China Association of International Trade to import foreign products for distribution throughout China, especially the growing Chinese middle class consumers. The effort is part of China’s attempt to narrow its trade surplus with the U.S.
The Chinese government officials discussed with the Governor plans to launch a foreign products and services show-room and distribution center, the first one scheduled in Shanghai. The showroom would be developed and operated at no cost to the foreign companies selling into the China market. The Ministry of Commerce is very interested in Hawai‘i products and services, as it believes Hawai‘i has a unique consumer brand that would appeal to Chinese. Governor Lingle agreed to work closely with the Ministry to capitalize on this opportunity for Hawai‘i companies.
The Governor travels to Shanghai today, where she will meet with tourism officials, tour wholesalers, travel agents, airline executives as well as Shanghai media to promote Hawai‘i as a travel destination. She will also meet with the organizers of the Shanghai Expo, a six-month international exhibition to be held May to September of 2010 to explore utilizing the expo as a platform for promoting the export of Hawai‘i products and services.
Governor Lingle also plans to visit Hong Kong, Hainan Province and Guangdong Province to continue promoting Hawai‘i tourism, clean energy partnerships and international trade opportunities for Hawai‘i products and services. The Governor left Honolulu for China on Oct. 30. She is scheduled to return on Nov. 13.
Additional information about the Governor’s tourism and economic development trip to China, including photos, can be found on the Governor’s website: www.hawaii.gov/gov.