An official aloha shirt for APEC?
Designers have already been asked for proposals for designs for a shirt that could be worn by the leaders of the 21 Pacific nation meeting here in November for the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum hosted by President Barack Obama.
If official decision-makers – including the White House – approve, the leaders could be photographed together in the newly-designed aloha shirts.
But that’s a long way from being settled, according to the leadership group of the Hawaii Host Committee headed by Bank of Hawaii president Peter Ho.
In a briefing for Hawaii Business Magazine, the committee noted several new developments as plans for APEC move ahead rapidly:
- Local government leaders are attempting to find homes, or at least temporary or transitional shelter, for several thousand Oahu homeless before the November meetings. Using a new Veterans Administration best practices protocol for dealing with homelessness, the strategy calls for making homes available first. Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, a member of the committee, points out that it’s hard to be clean and presentable – part of the former criteria for being placed in a home – without a home to help make that possible.
- A major clean-up and spruce-up is already occurring along Nimitz Highway – a major route to and from Honolulu International Airport. That includes painting out graffiti and adding landscaping. Funding for the spruce-up will come through re-allocation of current resources, said Schatz.
- Hawaii has an unprecedented opportunity with the APEC meeting to refine its marketing appeal to include being a place not just for leisure travel but as a crossroads also perfect for serious business transactions.
“We do a tremendous job of marketing Hawaii as a leisure destination,” said Randall Tanaka, assistant general manager of the Hawaii Convention Center, and a member of the host committee. “It will take time to turn this ship.”
But the payoff is a whole new business segment for Hawaii’s tourist industry. “We’re making the pie bigger,” said Tanaka.
While Hawaii has struggled in the past to add an image of itself as a destination for serious meetings as a parallel to its sun and fun persona, Schatz points out that visitors from other Pacific rim nations don’t necessarily share that perception the way U.S. Mainlanders might. But he also notes that because the APEC meetings are being held here it showcases Hawaii as an ideal destination for serious meetings.
“There’s no more serious meeting that can occur here,” said Schatz.
Tanaka agreed: “We see APEC as a fire-starter for international meetings….It positions Hawaii not as a distant place from the (rest of the) U.S. but as a central place in the Pacific.
“This is a galvanizing moment for the state.”