Obama's annual visit a boon for Hawaii's tourism industry - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Obama's annual visit a boon for Hawaii's tourism industry

Kealohi Kuaiwa, a Lanikai Bath and Body employee, says business has been brisk during Obama's visit. Kealohi Kuaiwa, a Lanikai Bath and Body employee, says business has been brisk during Obama's visit.
Puna Nam, owner of Cinnamon's Restaurant, said there are lots of indirect benefits from Obama's visit. Puna Nam, owner of Cinnamon's Restaurant, said there are lots of indirect benefits from Obama's visit.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The leader of the free world is becoming one of the most effective pitchmen for Hawaii's no. 1 industry.

Tourism marketing experts said it would cost Hawaii's visitor industry millions of dollars to match the annual televised news coverage of the president and his family enjoying the great weather at local golf courses and other outdoor and fine dining activities here.

"The publicity and press coverage that accompanies him when he visits Hawaii with his family on Christmas holidays -- you just can put a dollar value on that," said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

Added Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO George Szigeti: "Here you have the president of the United States, the most powerful person, the most influential person in the world who has decided to come to Hawaii year after year after year," he said.

"I would say it's priceless for the president and his family to come to chose every year. They're our ultimate repeat customer."

The key word here is "repeat customer," which accounts for 50 to 60 percent of Hawaii's visitors.

Businesses in Kailua, where the first family stays, say they're definitely benefiting from the Obama effect. In fact some say it's like an extra week of holiday shopping.

"I definitely see an increase in business. There's a lot more visitors around here because they want to see President Obama in Kailua," said Kealohi Kuaiwa, who works at Lanikai Bath and Body.

Puna Nam, owner of Cinnamon's Restaurant, said he sees a lot of indirect benefits of the Obamas' trips. 

"One of the things that we're kind of happy about is that some of the presidential staff and all of the secret service have been coming here for breakfast and lunch," he said.

"I would say that our business has increased during the holiday season when he's here, about maybe 10 percent.

Next Christmas will be Obama's last as president. Business leaders say they hope the Obamas will keep spending their holidays here after that but unfortunately he won't be bringing along the international press corps.

Mobile users: Click here for photos of President Obama's Christmas vacation in Hawaii.

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