Monday, April 12, 2010


Richard Chamberlain leaves Maui: “nothing’s happening here”

After spending four years building an oceanfront home on Maui, Chamberlain said he realized ‘nothing's happening here’

by Larry Geller

Contrast Richard Chamberlain’s observation with the optimistic outlook of “visitor industry officials” in this Advertiser story about the APEC summit scheduled for 2011:

Some local businesses could experience a decline in sales as a result of blocked streets and other security measures associated with next year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu, visitor industry officials cautioned yesterday.

However, they were quick to add that they believe the opportunity to market Hawai'i to the world as a serious place to come and do business will outweigh any short-term inconveniences caused by the 11-day conference scheduled for November.

State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said the conference is a chance to transform the image of Hawai'i from a sun-and-fun destination to a place where business also can be conducted.[Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii businesses likely to lose sales during APEC summit, 4/10/2010]

Unfortunately, when APEC conferees look out their windows, they’ll see sun and sand and waves and surfers—not a place where business can be conducted. They won’t see manufacturing, farming, or much high-tech. Just sun, just sand, just surf.

Each year the Pacific Telecommunications Council meets in Hawaii in January. Recently the attendee count has been around 1,300, not shabby at all. Perversely, many visitors hang out in their hotel suites where they stage receptions and hold private meetings and may not attend any of the PTC sessions. Some never pay the conference fee.

Then they go back home to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, France, wherever. Next January they return to Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii is a great place for a meeting, especially in January. All that sun and sand etc. 

As a place to conduct business, Hawaii strikes out. We are too isolated. It’s better to be near customers or vendors. We don’t have the low-tech support that high-tech needs. Try to get circuit boards made here, for example.

APEC visitors won’t be fooled any more than anyone else has been.

What they will likely notice is that “nothing's happening here.”

For us, we should weigh the costs against realistic benefits and not swallow the hype.

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