HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle, Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr., the four county mayors and Hawai‘i business and visitor industry leaders have sent a joint letter to President Barack Obama urging him to oppose any measure that would unfairly restrict the ability for companies to use conventions, meetings and incentives rewards (CMI) as a legitimate business tool.
The letter, which was signed by Hawai‘i’s top state and county government leaders as well as 90 representatives from visitor industry organizations, chambers of commerce, hotels, airlines, visitor attractions and businesses across the state, emphasizes the important role of conventions, meetings and incentive rewards travel in sustaining and expanding Hawai‘i’s visitor mix. In 2008, CMI business travelers accounted for 7 percent of the total visitor arrivals to Hawai‘i, roughly 442,000 visitors.
“In this period of economic downturn when our government and businesses are striving to restore economic stability, the last thing we should do is implement policies or encourage behavior that jeopardize any industry, especially one that has such far-reaching impact on communities across America,” Hawai‘i officials wrote in the letter.
The increased scrutiny of business travel for companies that have received emergency funding as part of the federal government’s economic recovery efforts has caused increased downturn in business and convention travel nationwide.
The effect has been particularly difficult for Hawai‘i, which continues to position the state as a place to do business as well as a leisure and travel vacation destination. So far this year, 132 groups have canceled meetings and incentive trips to Hawai‘i, representing a total loss in direct revenue of $58.8 million and an overall economic impact to the state of $97.6 million.
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