RIMPAC’s return means another boost for Oahu’s economy

The exercises bring in at least $50 million to Hawaii.
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 9:52 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 1, 2022 at 10:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of military personnel are in Hawaii for the U.S. Navy’s Rim of the Pacific exercises, also known as RIMPAC — the largest international naval exercise.

Some 25,000 personnel of 26 nations are taking part. And though they are busy with the exercises, there’s still some R&R. So retailers and others have been preparing for their return.

“The overarching purpose of RIMPAC is about commitment, it’s about a free and open Indo-Pacific. that’s really the key,” said Jason Chung, the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii’s vice president of military affairs.

“Then it’s a plus $50 million inject into Hawaii’s economy every year that it’s executed,” Chung added.

According to Chung, there’s the direct impact of fueling and provisions for ships, along with maintenance and other related services. “The indirect would be the accommodations, the lodging, the merchandise that is sold, eateries and restaurants that benefit by having over 25,000 individuals involved in the exercise,” he said.

“They do get shore leaves, so they want to go to the beach, they want to explore,” said Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

Yamaki said social media reveals a lot of hidden secret spots in Hawaii along with hole in the wall restaurants.

Waikiki attracts the off-duty sailors as much as any other visitor.

“I’ve seen, like, huge amounts of them coming in, and the conversations are very good, like, very nice, and they bring in business,” said Cate Cook, one of the customer service clerks at the Stoke House surf shop on Kalakaua Avenue.

We saw a group of a dozen or so sailors on shore leave from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, in Hawaii for RIMPAC. All but two of the sailors were in Hawaii for the first time.

“We’ve been hitting up some different stuff,” said sailor Broedy Patterson, who’s here for the second time. “Plan on going out to town tonight, hit up some bars, going to go up to the North Shore and surf a couple of days, go see some hikes and stuff.”

“So far all we’ve really gotten to do is go to the beach and experience the night life,” said Luke Kennedy about his first dock in the islands. “But I’m looking forward to hiking and seeing some waterfalls, maybe cliff diving or something like that.”

It’s all a break from a very important mission.

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