Special to KPUA.net by H.I.E.D.B
IRONMAN CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF ECONOMIC IMPACT
Hawaii Island Economic Development Board is a private non-profit organization whose mission is, "To provide and promote private-sector support and expertise for balanced economic growth in Hawaii County, in partnership with federal, state, county and private resources."
Event Synonymous With Sports Tourism on Hawaii Island
As Ironman celebrates 25 years as one of the worldıs most grueling athletic endeavors, Hawaii Island can also celebrate tremendous economic impact from this single event. Along with Hawaiiıs International Billfish Tournament that will celebrate its 45th year in 2004, these events can be credited with bringing "sports tourism" to Hawaii Island. Sports tourism is defined as tourists visiting primarily to attend or participate in a sports-related event or activity. A study concluded in 2000 by the Hawaii Tourism Authority revealed that the NFL Pro-Bowl in Honolulu and Ironman were the best-known Hawaii sports events because of their worldwide television audiences. Furthermore, those surveyed felt that the Ironman presented a more well-rounded, authentic feel for Hawaii. Worldwide, sports tourism and related activities account for 32 percent of overall tourist dollars.
King Kamehamehaıs Kona Beach Hotelıs corporate director of hotel operations Mark McGuffie, can tell you not only what it takes for the "official headquarters of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship" hotel to pull off their share of this event of momentous proportion but what it means to business in general.
"It takes a dedicated staff, it takes temporary hires, it takes over one hundred volunteers, it takes the coordination of a magician and lots of sweat equity," McGuffie says. "We intend, as we always do, to pull out all the stops to do our part to help make Ironman a success."
McGuffie asserts that Ironman accounts for at least ten-percentage points in occupancy during October for Kailua-Kona area hotels, condominiums, vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts. The periphery revenues from food and retail sales are equally impressive.
In a few short days, King Kamehamehaıs Kona Beach Hotel will serve an estimated 15,000 catered banquet meals. The hotel will host athletes, VIPıs and media from around the globe, and see thousands of onlookers congregate at their doorstep. And this year, organizers felt the central location of the hotel would offer a more spectator-friendly opportunity to see athletesı coming and going during their swim to bike and bike to run transitions, which will be in the hotelıs parking lot.
The transition area also serves as the hotelıs Ironman banquet venue. The parking area is the only venue large enough for the massive requirements of the event such as dinner for 3,500 for Thursday eveningıs carbo-loading party. Race day there will be bleachers, approximately 1,700 bike racks, menıs and womenıs changing tents, VIP viewing areas, and more, all to be replaced with tables and chairs for Sundayıs award dinner with an expected attendance of 4,000.
A Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism study concluded that $14.9 million is pumped in to the island economy over Ironman race dates. Utilizing known multiplier effects, that number mushrooms to more than $26 million in total sales resulting in $2.5 million in tax revenues alone (general excise, transient accommodations, fuel, individual income and other taxes). Unlike many events that may impact revenues and occupancies for two to three days, the Ironman impact begins a full two weeks or more prior to the event as athletes arrive on island to "climatize" and familiarize themselves with the racecourse. Occupancies and revenues continue to build through the Saturday race and then taper for three to four days following the event.
The race is the largest credentialed media event in the state of Hawaii. Each year an average of 300 media personnel, many of them international, register with race organizers in the media office at King Kamehamehaıs Kona Beach Hotel. Invaluable coverage reaches an estimated 50 million U.S. households. Ironman Kona is shown internationally and is re-aired at least once on network television during the following year. For several years, race television coverage has been via exclusive contract with NBC Television. This yearıs twenty-fifth anniversary race will air nationally on NBC this November.
The Ironman distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, marathon of 26.2 miles) has become a benchmark of athletic endurance. As Hawaii Island welcomes the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Ironman, we can unabashedly celebrate its economic contribution and enthusiastically welcome the world to our island. It is an ideal time to showcase the spirit of aloha and fully capitalize on the many economic opportunities such an event imparts.
Focus on the Economy is written for Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Roberta Chu, chair / Paula Helfrich, president. Readers with comments, questions or suggestions should check the web site www.hiedb.org . Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call HIEDB, 966-5416. An archive of Focus on the Economy columns is available on the web site.
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