Soccer tournament gives tourism big kick

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

WAIPAHU (KHNL) - Hawaii's tourism industry is getting a big boost -- or kick -- from a national soccer tournament held in the islands. It's the second tournament held on oahu in the last month.

During the day, it's soccer. But when the games are done, it's time for enjoying the islands.

"we got here on Saturday, went to the swap meet and Pearl Harbor on Sunday," said Judy Fisher, a soccer mom from Utah. "Went to the Polynesian Cultural Center. The kids had a blast."

These people are here for the AYSO 2008 National games, featuring 180 teams from 16 states from Hawaii to Florida.

"Obviously coming to Hawaii is an opportunity everybody wants and is not gonna pass up," said Gary Kenny, a soccer dad from Glendale, California.

That goes same for the organizers. Hawaii bid for the rights to host this tournament, which in turn brings some 5,000 people here; which in turn pumps about $10-million into our economy.

"that's the key to us, is to show the aloha hospitality that we have here in Hawaii," said tournament director Alan Heu.

If that's the goal, parents say we've already scored.

"Have fun, play some really good soccer," said Fisher. "Hopefully win some games, be able to advance. But if not, we'll just go back to having more fun."

This tournament comes three weeks after the U.S. Youth Soccer West Regional, which brought another 5,000 or so people here. That tournament was estimated to pump $12 to 14 million into the economy.