Chances are unless you're one of the 20,000 people expected to attend it or one of the over 2,000 world journalists expected to cover it, you've never heard of APEC 2011, But, come mid-November 2011, you certainly will as the world's media attention will be focused on Honolulu and the island of Oahu for APEC 2011.
What is APEC 2011?
APEC 2011 is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting (APEC) which will take place November 7-13, 2011 on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, the state where President Barack Obama was born and where he spent most of his formative years attending the prestigious Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979.
APEC is the premier economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC was established in 1989 and comprises 21 member economies from around the Pacific Rim, including the United States. According to the White House, APEC's goals are to "foster growth and prosperity by facilitating economic cooperation and expanding trade and investment throughout the region, cultivating small and medium-sized businesses, and fostering an environment that allows innovation to flourish."
APEC economies account for 54 percent of global GDP, 44 percent of world trade, and 61 percent of U.S. goods exports.
APEC 2011 will be the first time that the United States has hosted the annual APEC meeting since President Bill Clinton first hosted Pacific Rim heads of state in 1993. Last year's meeting was held in Yokohama, Japan.
Attending the week-long event will be international delegates and staff from the 21 APEC nations including finance ministers/cabinet secretaries, diplomats, policy-makers, and top Pacific Rim CEOs.
The focal point for the numerous ministerial and senior officials’ meetings throughout the week will be the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, the largest and most modern facility of its type in Hawaii. The Hawaii Convention Center is located just minutes from Waikiki where the major hotels and resorts will be serving as hosts for the various delegations. The convention center will also be home to the media center for the 2,000 world journalists expected to attend.
The APEC 2011 Leaders' Reception and Dinner on Saturday, November 12, 2011, will take place in Honolulu at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. Located on the western end of Waikiki on Waikiki Beach, Hale Koa is a unique hotel in that it is part of the Fort DeRussy Armed Forces Recreation Center owned (but self-sustaining) by the United States Department of Defense. All of its guests are required to be active duty or reserve, retired military, Department of Defense employees, or their family members.
On Sunday, November 13, APEC world leaders will meet at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa at Ko Olina on Oahu's western shore, about a 45 minute to hour drive from Waikiki (depending on traffic).
Impact of APEC 2011 on Hawaii
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the state of Hawaii is literally at the center of the Pacific Rim, making it the perfect location to host APEC 2011.
While island visitors and local residents can expect larger than normal crowds throughout the conference, higher security at host hotels and venues and potential traffic delays, the potential benefits of hosting the week-long meeting far outweighs these issues.
First, and most importantly, through the print and television media, the eyes of the world will be on Hawaii and especially the island of Oahu with its warm and welcoming people, rich cultural heritage, great hotels and resorts and striking natural beauty. For one week, almost every news report on a major broadcast network and cable news channel will be showing Hawaii to the world. The impact on future tourism to the islands, from not only the rest of the United States, but from the nations of the Pacific, will, hopefully, be significant.
Its no secret that business travel to Hawaii, especially from the mainland USA, has suffered in recent years due to the world's economic dowturn. John Monahan, president and CEO of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, believes APEC will be a perception-changing conference for Hawaii's meetings industry. Quoting Mr. Monahan, "The world knows Hawaii as a dream vacation destination, but APEC will show that our islands are an ideal setting for hosting serious business meetings, and especially adept when it comes to gatherings involving international interests."
From a business perspective the impact on Hawaii can also be significant as Hawaii gets to showcase many of its innovative businesses and their successes and potentially encourage investment in many of these new ventures especially in fields such as clean energy, life and health sciences, and earth, ocean and sky sciences.
If You Are Attending APEC 2011
Of the 20,000 expected visitors for APEC, many will be family and staff of the high level officials as well as families of media representatives. My first trip to Hawaii in the early 1990's was as a guest accompanying my wife on to a business conference.
If you are in that group, you will likely have some free time to explore all that Oahu has to offer. Hopefully, some of you will extend your stays to visit one or more of Oahu's neighbor islands. You should be sure to learn about the islands of Hawaii and what makes Hawaii so special.
If your plans keep you on Oahu, there are many great activities and attractions on Oahu that you should be sure to take advantage of, including a number of things that are free or almost free not only on the island but even in Waikiki. Even if you just visit Oahu, I encourage you to take some time to get out and explore the island. It's a beautiful island and far too many visitors spend their entire time at their hotel or resort and never see just how amazing an island it is.