Sports a Big Boost to Hawaii Economy

Rex Johnson
Rex Johnson

By Jason Tang

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Hawaii may not have a pro sports team, but island sports are still a big draw for local tourism.

Each year, the state hosts big time sports venues, the Pro Bowl and the Honolulu Marathon just to name a few, and all of them help fuel the economy.

"It portrays Hawaii in the dead of winter when most of the nation is freezing to death," said Rex Johnson, CEO and President of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Those images attract visitors from all over the world and those visitors translate into money for the economy.

This past Honolulu Marathon brought in almost $110 million in visitor spending, while the NFL Pro Bowl generated close to $30 million. However, the Pro Bowl contract ends next year, and no new deal has been reached.

"The Pro Bowl happens to be here at a time when we're pretty close to having a full house, but don't get me wrong, we love having them here, but that's prime time for Hawaii," said Johnson.

Tourism officials are still negotiating with the NFL on an extended contract, but they also have plans for new sporting events if it doesn't go through.

"How bout we get the champs from the Japan league and the champs from the Major Leagues in a three game series, we've talked about pre-season football, so we're constantly hashing around new ideas," said Johnson.

Ideally, the Hawaii Tourism Authority would love for more sporting events during non-peak months, but...

"That's just not the way the world works, so we're happy to have them whenever we can get them," Johnson said.