Chamber of Commerce: RIMPAC good for economy, future tourism

Published: Jul. 5, 2016 at 8:02 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 5, 2016 at 8:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - About 25,000 military personnel from 26 nations have converged on the state to train in this year's Rim of the Pacific military maritime exercise -- and to spend money.

Honolulu's Chamber of Commerce says Hawaii stands to make $52 million from the war games.

"That's $52 million that otherwise wouldn't be coming here if this exercise wasn't happening. Those are truly incremental economic benefits to the state," said Steve Colon, who serves on the chamber's Military Affairs Council.

Personnel from 45 ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft will be in the islands over the next five weeks.

"We are excited to get this exercise underway," U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Nora Tyson said.

In light of recent terror attacks, some might expect the Navy to restrict where sailors go on shore leave, which could impact spending off-base. But Navy Region Hawaii Rear Adm. John Fuller said sailors will follow "normal security precautions."

"They're going to go out in teams together. They'll know to be responsible and enjoy Hawaii," he said.

Colon said RIMPAC's economic boost compounds when you factor in spending on supplies, fuel and food by families and friends of participating personnel.

"It gives a great exposure to the state," he said. "These are service men who may never have been in Hawaii before, who now know what a great place this would be to come back to go vacation in."

RIMPAC happens every two years. This year, Germany, Italy and Denmark are new participants.

Pacific Fleet Cmdr. Scott Swift said there continues to be increased interest from other nations.

"I'm just not quite sure how we can cram more ships into Pearl Harbor," he quipped.

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