Hawaii tourism officials, business owners celebrate successful.. - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii tourism officials, business owners celebrate successful Sony Open

Wedge Lee Wedge Lee

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii tourism officials and business owners are celebrating the positive exposure they received during this week's Sony Open at Waialae Country Club.

With bad weather earlier in the week, everyone involved was on pins and needles. But then came the sun, and the economic boost the annual event brings.

It's not just a perfect putt that drew applause at the Sony Open. Television coverage of the PGA Tour event gave Hawaii's visitor industry officials reason to cheer.

"For us to be able to broadcast these beautiful images from Waialae, the mountains and the ocean and the beautiful surroundings to everybody is the best calling card that we can put out for Hawaii," Gerald Glennon, Halekulani general manager, said. "That's what really in the long term helps to stimulate our economy."

Joy Parker, 73, and seven of her friends flew in from Alabama to serve as tournament volunteers.

"We used to come as visitors, spectators," she said. "After I lost my husband, I decided I was going to come over here and volunteer. It was like a bolt out of the blue that said volunteer, volunteer."

Like other visitors to the islands, Parker is opening up her wallet while she is here.

"When we come for this, we never stay just for this and go home," she said. "We stay and we spend money because that's what women like to do is spend money."

From custom-made motorcycles to ono grinds, the Sony Open also provided dozens of local vendors the chance to showcase their products.

"It was huge," Wedge Lee, Ono To Go owner, said. "We wanted to expose ourselves, be at a sporting event. With the crowds that came the last two days, it was just incredible."

Since launching his lunch wagon business a couple of months ago, Lee has relied on word-of-mouth and Twitter to attract customers. But during the Sony Open, he got thousands of people to taste his food.

"Now they know," he said. "They see our truck. They know our name. They can come to visit us at our location. You know, we're expecting an increase of sales hopefully in the next month."

The PGA Tour also makes charitable contributions to each community it plays in. With its charity partners, this week's Sony Open was expected to generate more than $1 million for non-profit groups in Hawaii.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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