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Monday, May 20, 2013

Hawaii Governor Abercrombie Refutes 'Boondoggle' Perception Of Business M

-Hawai'i is exactly the right place – at the right time – for this year's National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS).

That sums up the position of Gov. Neil Abercrombie in refuting the "boondoggle" tag that critics have beset on the trade association for choosing the 50th state for its annual meeting, particularly when considering the State of Hawai'i's success in improving and reforming its public pension system.

"Those who aren't here are missing out, because this state is doing things right," said Gov. Abercrombie during the opening address at the NCPERS conference on Monday, May 20, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. "I invite any of your critics to come out here and get on a stage with me, and we'll see who's defending defined benefits the way it should be done." (Gov. Abercrombie's speech can be viewed at www.youtube.com/govabercrombie)

The Governor personally invited attendees to speak with members of his administration, such as conference attendee Finance Director Kalbert Young, to hear intimately about programs instituted to reform Hawai'i's public employee retirement system without requiring layoffs.

"Hawai'i's beautiful scenery and weather may blind some to the fact that we are home to a thriving, sophisticated and contemporary government and business community," the Governor later added at the conference. "Given the focus of this conference, I can think of no more appropriate venue than Hawai'i. Unfunded liabilities are crippling state and local governments across the country. This is serious business, and Hawai'i provides a working model.

"To let a knee-jerk perception color one's opinion at the expense of participating in the discussion misses the boat. NCPERS' critics are not thinking out-of-the-box, yet that is exactly what is needed to find truly transformative solutions."

Hawai'i's credentials as a serious business meetings destination were validated by the successful hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in November 2011, which was attended by President Barack Obama and heads-of-state, finance ministers, CEOs, and nearly 20,000 delegates from 21 nations. Kurt Tong, then-U.S. Ambassador for APEC, praised Hawai'i's performance in a Honolulu Star-Advertiser story, saying, "Hawai'i gets an A-plus. It's a shared home run for Hawai'i and for the United States."

The overall cost to meet in Hawai'i often has a better cost-to-value ratio than other top-tier cities in North America. The cost of lodging and food is often lower than in many places on the continental United States. Airlift from cities throughout North America and Asia is plentiful and airfares are competitively priced.

According to NCPERS, the hotel rate for their annual meeting at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is 44 percent below the cost of accommodations for their 2012 annual meeting in New York City. (NCPERS previously held its annual meeting in Honolulu in 2007.)

"Hawai'i stands on its own merits as a premier location to host meetings and conventions," said Gov. Abercrombie. "And when it's done in Hawai'i, planners are assured of the value they are getting. They know their events will be invigorating while allowing attendees to relax, think clearly, collaborate and, most importantly, fulfill their business objectives."

The Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) is contracted by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state of Hawai'i's tourism agency, to provide marketing management services for the meetings, conventions and incentives and leisure market segment. HTA was established in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawai'i tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with the state of Hawai'i's economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs.

Special note to media: The Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) recognizes the use of the 'okina ['] or glottal stop, one of the eight consonants of the (modern) Hawaiian language; and the kahakö [ä] or macron (e.g., in place names of Hawai'i such as Läna'i). However, HVCB respects the individual use of these markings for names of organizations and businesses.

For information about hosting meetings, conventions and incentives, visit MeetHawaii.com or call 1-888-424-2924. For information about leisure travel, visit GoHawaii.com.