HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu beat other cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco to host the APEC leaders meeting. The vision to host the APEC gathering in Hawaii came to life a few years ago at the East-West Center. President Charles Morrison traveled around the world attending APEC meetings. He believed that Honolulu would be the perfect place, so he chaired the team that put together a 160-page bid binder.
"I didn't at all think we were a shoo-in. In fact, I thought we were a dark horse," recalled Morrison.
Priscilla Texeira from the Hawaii Convention Center helped to bring together leaders in government, business and tourism.
"Everybody got onboard and it was so incredible how everybody just worked together," said Texeira.
"Hawaii could be a place to host this meeting because of our multi-cultural ethnic mix, because of our strategic location in the Pacific, because of our convention center and the location to our hotels," explained Hawaii Tourism Authority president Mike McCartney.
The detailed proposal covered issues including security, hotels, conference facilities and transportation. Nearly 50 organizations and government leaders turned in letters of support. Hawaii's senior senator, Daniel Inouye, also used his political power.
"This is like the Olympics for us. It's such a major international event," said Texeira.
Honolulu made it to the top three. Then during the final inspection, President Obama was offered a li hing mui souvenir.
"One member of the President's advance team was sent home with some cracked seed and encouraged to give it to the president. We don't know what happened after that," said Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz.
Some people worried that the president's close ties to Hawaii could actually be a disadvantage.
"I thought maybe for the president himself to choose his native state would look like favoritism, so I thought that our bid had to be so good so that the bureaucracy would say to him, 'Our first choice is this," said Morrison.
During the 2009 APEC summit, the president revealed that Honolulu would be the host city for the 2011 leaders meeting.
"I believe that we got the bid because it showed such strength and hospitality of the people of Hawaii," said Texeira.