Hawaii Convention Center Expects Record Bookings in 2009

While most of the meetings industry is bracing for a business downturn in light of global economic concerns, the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu says it's counting on 2009 to be its best year ever. That's according to Hawaii's business journal, Pacific Business News, which reported recently that the convention center expects meetings and conventions held there to generate $445 million in state spending next year—up $63 million from 2008, which tourism officials are calling the worst in the convention center's 10-year history.

Convention center officials credit international marketing efforts and their destination's family appeal for their optimistic outlook, which includes a 300,000 room night increase in hotel room nights generated by the center next year, for a total of 742,000. The highest number of convention center room nights on record is currently 706,000, which was achieved in 2005.

"The business convention market is somewhat immune to the current economic issues and continues to bring groups to Hawaii," Joe Davis, general manager of SMG Hawaii, which manages the Hawaii Convention Center, told Pacific Business News earlier this month. "They have to meet, and oftentimes these meetings are set years in advance. Depending on the organization, there is also a need to continue learning innovations in certain specialties, the cutting-edge and new technologies."

Among the major groups holding meetings and conventions in Hawaii next year are the International Society for Magnetic Resonance, which is expected to attract at least 4,500 visitors to Honolulu in April, and the American Dental Association, which anticipates registering at least 40,000 members for its 150th Annual Session in October.