HONOLULU – The 15th Annual Honolulu Festival was a welcome boost for Hawaii tourism at a time when it was needed most, according to economic impact figures announced today by the Honolulu Festival Foundation.

The Honolulu Festival, which took place March 13-15, generated more than 5,200 visitors (mostly from Japan) who came to Hawaii specifically to take part in the weekend of festivities. The resulting economic impact was an estimated $10-million-plus in visitor spending and nearly $1 million in total tax revenues.

Keiichi Tsujino, president of the Honolulu Festival Foundation, said more residents and visitors attended the cultural exhibits than in years past. “This year’s Honolulu Festival was a great success for all involved. People seemed to really appreciate being able to enjoy for free the variety of cultural entertainment and exhibits,” said Tsujino.

The Festival began March 13 with free cultural demonstrations for nearly 1,000 Oahu school students at the Hawaii Convention Center. On March 14-15, it opened to the public with two full days of free cultural performances and exhibits at the Hawaii Convention Center, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Waikiki Beach Walk, and Waikiki Shopping Plaza, along with a Grand Parade through Waikiki. The free public performances drew approximately 30,000 guests, of which nearly 17,000 came to the Hawaii Convention Center. Moreover, an estimated 40,000 spectators along Kalakaua Avenue watched the Grand Parade finale on the evening of March 15.

In addition, the Festival’s “Friendship Gala” on March 14 generated more than $52,000 in support of Hawaii educational and cultural programs sponsored by the Honolulu Festival Foundation.

The Festival proved to be especially timely for the visitor industry. Monthly passenger counts compiled by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism show that March was the worst month yet for arrivals in 2009. March passenger arrivals overall were down by 15 percent year-over-year, which compares with a decline of 13 percent each for both January and February. In contrast, international arrivals (excluding Canada) declined in March by just 5 percent year-over-year, which compares favorably with the 6 percent drop in January and 7 percent fall in February.

“Our mission is to promote Asia-Pacific culture, but we are equally pleased about supporting Hawaii tourism during this difficult economic period,” said Tsujino.

The Honolulu Festival was initiated in 1995 to help promote cultural understanding and harmony between the people of Hawaii and Asia-Pacific. It is supported by the Honolulu Festival Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed in 2000 to administer Festival activities and perpetuate the culture, customs and traditions of Asians and Pacific Islanders through community outreach and charitable efforts.

Next year’s 16th Annual Honolulu Festival takes place March 12-14, 2010. For more information, please visit http://www.honolulufestival.com/en/.

Honolulu Festival Foundation
Phone: (808) 926-2424
URL:http://www.honolulufestival.com/en/