Lions convention draws 20,000 delegates to islands

Lions convention draws 20,000 delegates to islands

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The year 2015 has been a good one so far for tourism in Hawaii. Waikiki -- one of the beneficiaries of the good visitor numbers -- will get even more crowded this weekend as the largest convention so far this year hits the island.

Some 20,000 delegates and their families are in the islands for the 98th annual convention of Lions Clubs International.

"Lions has over 200 countries around the world," said the organization's president, Joe Preston. "I think they said something like over a hundred twenty-seven are represented at this convention with registrations."

"I'll stay until the eighth of July, because we are going to visit all the other islands," said Luc DeBois, a Lions delegate from Bonheiden, Belgium making his first-ever visit to Hawaii. "When I'm here I have to see the whole islands, I'm not going to stay for a few days."

This is only the fourth time Hawaii has hosted the international service organization. The last time was in 2002. Hawaii tourism officials expect the convention will generate more than $84 million in revenue, and $8.2 million in tax revenue.

Some of that money will be spent over the weekend in Kapiolani Park for a Lions International Festival and craft fair, where tents were already set up Friday evening.

"I think it's good for everybody, for all the crafters and the artisans who are going to have booths. It's real exciting," said jewelry seller Beverly Shannon.

It's guaranteed the park will be full Saturday. it's where the Lions' Parade of Nations will finish up. The four-hour-long parade is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and go down Kalakaua Avenue.

The convention itself will wrap up on Tuesday.

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