Hawaiʻi tourism officials say since the Hawaiʻi Convention Center opened, ʻelele or ambassadors from the University of Hawaiʻi have helped to bring a half-billion dollars worth of convention business to the state.

Brian Lynx, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority vice president of meetings, conventions and incentives said, “The University of Hawaiʻi is really our stronghold not only an education resource but also our educational foundation. We don’t have the companies like Google and IBM at our back door or even our back lawn to go to and have them help us win business. UH is really important because it enables us to connect to people around the world on a different level.

3 people with  award

UH President David Lassner presented with the ʻElele Organization of the Year Award.

For these accomplishments, the industry has recognized the University of Hawaiʻi with the first ʻElele Organization of the Year Award. The award from Meet Hawaiʻi—a collaboration of the Hawaiʻi Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Hawaiʻi Convention Center—was presented to UH President David Lassner.

“I hope we can continue the great partnership and bring more meetings to Hawaiʻi—more opportunities for UH faculty staff, students, members of our community, more economic activity and perhaps more spin offs, as we bring these people in and they see what can be done in Hawaiʻi,” Lassner said.

Using their lifetime of professional relationships, UH ʻelele have worked in cooperation with the tourism industry to attract more than four dozen important meetings and conventions to the state.

Meet Hawaiʻi says six UH faculty members each have already brought in more than $40 million in convention business.

  • Jeff Akaka, John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • Wayne Shiroma, College of Engineering
  • Magdy Iskander, College of Engineering
  • Loren Yamamoto, John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • David Karl, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
  • David Sanders, Institute for Astronomy

UH Mānoa Department Electrical Engineering Chair Wayne Shiroma was instrumental in bringing the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Microwave Theory and Techniques Symposium to Hawaiʻi in 2007.

“As someone that was brought up in the islands I felt that I wanted to personally give back,” said Shiroma. “Our conference in 2007 brought in $34 million in visitor spending and that to me was something that I felt that I could tangibly contribute to Hawaiʻi’s economy.”

Based on the success of the 2007 program, the engineering symposium has been rebooked for 2017. Together, these conferences represent about $60 million in visitor spending. Working together, UH ʻElele and Meet Hawaiʻi hope to generate many more conferences and millions of dollars for the state.

For more information on the ʻElele Program please contact Debbie Zimmerman, ʻElele Program director, at (808) 202-0044 or by email.