2016 World Conservation Congress is a Positive for Hawaii

 

2016 World Conservation Congress is a Positive for Hawaii

Published on June 26, 2015
Courtesy Star-Advertiser, Bruce Asato
Hawaii will be the first U.S. venue to play host to the World Conservation Congress, which will be open to the public, including our visitors, September 1 – 10, 2016.  The 2016 event at the Hawaii Convention Center is expected have broad social and economic impact on Hawaii due to the conservation and preservation themes and diversity of attendees. 

Quoted alongside travel and tourism leaders in an article by Allison Schaefers in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Dave Erdman, president and chief executive officer of PacRim Marketing Group and PRTech, commented on how important the IUCN World Congress is for the United States and Hawaii.

Hawaii’s successful planning and implementation of the international APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in 2011 showcased the state’s expertise and ideal location for meetings at the Gateway to the Pacific.  The upcoming conference will not only be good for meetings and conventions, but also for attracting tourists interested in “green travel” and “sustainable tourism.”   

See article below:

Effort to fund global gathering at halfway point.  Honolulu will host conservationists from 160 countries in September 2016

By Allison Schaefers
 
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 25, 2015

Hawaii is more than halfway to its goal of raising the $11.5 million financial commitment required to host the 2016 World Conservation Congress, the state’s most important international meeting since the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Coming to Hawaii Sept. 1-10 next year, the premier conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature is expected to attract 8,000 to 10,000 delegates from 160 countries. The delegates may generate as much as $45 million in visitor spending and another $6 million to $8 million in tax collections, said Randall Tanaka, executive director of Hawaii’s WCC National Host Committee, who spoke about the coming event at a Pacific Asia Travel Association luncheon Wednesday at the Hawaii Prince Hotel.

“The IUCN conference is the largest conservation conference in the world. It’s held every four years to foster debate about conservation and the environment. But this is the first time that it will be held in the U.S.,” Tanaka said.

Hawaii was notified in May that it had been selected to host the event, which it secured after eight years of effort from political leaders and about two dozen organizations in Hawaii and the Pacific Rim. Organizers made trips to Barcelona, Spain, to meet with the host of the last Congress; to Washington, D.C., to meet with the U.S. Department of State and Hawaii’s congressional delegation; and to the headquarters in Switzerland of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s oldest and leading global environmental organization. A Hawaii delegation, including U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and 39 other leaders in education, government, meetings, tourism, culture and conservation, also traveled to the 2012 WCC in South Korea. Tanaka said a host committee was formed about a year ago.

“We’ve raised $6 million to date mostly from the state and now we are looking for private sector donations,” he said.

Tanaka and event organizers will put their fundraising efforts into overdrive with the launch of a September crowd-sourcing campaign.

“We’d like to raise another $8 million to $10 million by July of 2016. The money will go to support operations, programs and to sponsor 350 delegates from financially challenged countries. The more money that we raise, the better the event will be,” Tanaka said.

The host committee also is working with Hawaii’s hospitality sector so that properties meet the sustainability criteria that Hawaii said it would provide in its agreement to host the event.

Properties that host WCC events or guests are required to have strong environmental track records and a minimum negative impact on the environment, said June Matsumoto, the local host committee’s director of planning and program coordination.

“We are working together with (the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism) and their Hawaii Green Business Program to make sure that all hotels within the IUCN housing block who do not already have green certification meet the certification requirements,” Matsumoto said.

Tanaka said Hawaii’s hospitality industry already is on board and should be ready to meet the challenge.
During the WCC’s selection site visit to Hawaii, Starwood Hawaii was ready.

“As Starwood Hawaii, we exhibited our passion for conservation by presenting our ‘Green is the new Pink’ at the Royal Hawaiian hotel, which was chosen as one of the sites for the Congress representatives,” said Paige Cabacungan, director of sales and marketing for Starwood Resorts & Hotels — Waikiki. “We also gave them an indigenous experience on the open ocean in one of our outrigger canoes, explaining to them the importance of our culture and how we embrace the concept of teamwork.”

Matsumoto said the Hawaii Tourism Authority through the KUPU Rise Program is offering assistance to any hotels that may need assistance meeting certification requirements.

“We hope to show that Hawaii is truly a sustainable tourism destination, and to have the opportunity to have the World Conservation Congress acknowledge this fact would be a great global validation of our efforts,” Matsumoto said.

Tanaka said WCC will be smaller than APEC, which brought about 17,000 delegates and accompanying parties to Hawaii in November 2011. It also has a smaller arrivals footprint than this week’s 98th annual Lions Clubs International Conference, which is expected to draw more than 20,000 delegates and family members.

However, Tanaka said WCC is a longer event that is expected to have broader social and economic impacts because of the relevance of its conservation and preservation themes, and because of the diversity of attendees.

Also, Tanaka said the public is likely to be more involved with WCC.

“There will be open pavilions at the Hawai‘i Convention Center and the first half of the 10-day conference is going to be a public forum,” Tanaka said. “When we look at the social implications of what conservation and preservation are about there really isn’t anyone that isn’t touched.”

That’s why Dave Erdman, president and CEO of PacRim Marketing Group Inc. & PRTech LLC, said hosting the IUCN World Congress is a huge win for the United States and Hawaii.

“It shows our islands are important in the leadership, conversation and social implications of conservation, and that our hospitality and tourism industry and all our industry partners have demonstrated that with our experience with APEC we can host these kinds of significant meetings and gatherings at the ‘crossroads and gateway’ to the Pacific — and our Hawai‘i Convention Center can be a gathering place for dialog and ideas on this important global topic,” Erdman said.

Erdman said he and others in the visitor industry look forward to having attendees from fast-growing Asia-Pacific economies engage in the conversation on conservation and sustainability.

“Having the Congress here will raise the positive awareness of Hawaii as a tourism destination that is concerned about sustainability and conservation, which will help us to draw future visitors to Hawaii who want to learn more about our diversity of nature, culture, conservation and sustainability as part of their vacation experience,” he said.