HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just four months to go until the unprecedented APEC event in Honolulu. The APEC host committee is already laying the groundwork for publicizing the islands - by inviting media from Asia to visit ahead of the summit.
And the hosts aren't shy about saying it's targeting the huge, untapped market in China for future economic partnerships. That's why their first invite was to a handful of journalists from some of the biggest media outlets in Beijing.
The APEC committee hopes to position Hawaii, not only as a vacation destination for Chinese visitors, but as an investment partner. So, it's strategically invited a handful of Beijing TV and print journalists to our shores to get the message out that Hawaii is open for business.
"We think China growth looks to not slow down anytime soon," says Hawaii's Lt. Governor, Brian Schatz, "and if you participate in that growth than that will help all the people in Hawaii in terms of jobs and economic opportunity going forward."
The journalists are touring UH's medical school to see advances in biotechnology and science. They heard from the local bio-tech company, Tissue Genesis, who's founder just returned from the shuttle launch in Florida. He told the roomful of journalists, "On that mission, Tissue Genesis put a cell experiment into space."
During their visit, they'll also board a UH research vessel and travel to Maunakea's telescope. Hawaii's renewable energy resources will also be highlighted. With 1.3 billion people and nearly 20 percent of the world's population, China offers a wealth of opportunity for entities like the university.
UH President, M.R.C. Greenwood says, "What we are looking for now is the next economic wave. How do we work with our partners in the Asia-Pac countries in their universities and with their businesses to create a special relationship that will help Hawaii's overall economy?"
The APEC host committee has also extended invitations to other foreign journalists - ahead of November's summit. Reporters from Shanghai will arrive next. Then, media outlets from Korea will come to the islands. The bill for their trip is picked up by the host committee and in-kind contributions from private APEC partners.
But for all its opportunity, we're still reminded China is not a democracy. The journalists declined to be interviewed, and we were asked not to show their faces or use their names. We were told it's culturally not appropriate for reporters to interview reporters.