The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa was celebrated by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA), Meet Hawaiʻi and the state’s tourism industry leaders as the ʻElele Organization of the Year for its outstanding work in helping to bring potentially more than $100 million in convention business to the state.

SOEST’s Dean Brian Taylor accepted the award on behalf of the university system on December 7 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center. It is the second award from HTA/Meet Hawaiʻi given to an entire organization.

“The University of Hawaiʻi School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology has played an integral role in securing convention business for the state,” said Randy Baldemor, chief operating officer for the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. “The international and national relationships of our ʻElele ambassadors are important for maintaining and expanding our repertoire of business. We greatly appreciate their efforts and look forward to continued partnership in the coming years.”

Since the opening of the Hawaiʻi Convention Center in 1998, UH’s ʻElele (ambassadors) have helped bring a half-billion dollars worth of convention business to Hawaiʻi. Specifically, since 2002 SOEST has generated a total of $57.75 million year to date with repeat bookings for the Ocean Sciences Meeting and the Ocean Research Conference. Additionally, SOEST has assisted Meet Hawaiʻi in securing definite future conventions with estimated economic impact of $38.5 million. Future conventions with SOEST affiliation include the International Coral Reef Symposium and Acoustical Society of America and Acoustical Society of Japan in 2016, the Ocean Sciences Meeting and Geological Society of America–Cordilleran Section in 2017 and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society in 2018. Finally, SOEST also has generated an estimated $37.3 million in tentative future bookings.

“It is an honor to receive this award from Meet Hawaiʻi. In our course of study, Hawaiʻi provides rich experiences and priceless research opportunities found nowhere else in the world,” said Taylor. “We are grateful for this partnership and feel privileged to serve as hosts for such an amazing destination.”

The following UH individuals and organizations were also recognized for their notable contributions to securing convention business for the state:

  • Greg Moore a professor of geology and geophysics at SOEST, is the lead for the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society meeting in 2018. The meeting is expected to draw 2,000 scientists and have an economic impact of $9 million.
  • Magdy Iskander director of the Hawaiʻi Center for Advanced Communications at the UH Mānoa College of Engineering, is the lead for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society meeting in 2018. This meeting is expect to draw 3,000 participants, with an economic impact of $14 million.

Through the HTA ʻElele program, Meet Hawaiʻi partners with community leaders who have ties to national and international organizations in pursuit of mutually beneficial meetings for the Hawaiʻi Convention Center and the Hawaiian Islands.

Using their lifetime of professional relationships, the ʻElele have worked in cooperation with the tourism industry to attract dozens of important meetings and conventions to the state, including the Lions Club International, International Astronomical Union and IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.

group shot of business people on stage
(L to r): Debbie Zimmerman, ʻElele Program Director; SOEST Dean Brian Taylor; SOEST Associate Dean Alexander Shor; and George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority