The Military’s Impact On Tourism

The military is Hawaii’s second largest economic force, with spending totaling roughly $8.8 billion a year (as of 2009), just behind tourism according to state government figures. That’s why, as a City Councilman and later as mayor of Honolulu, I established military affairs committees, consisting of public officials and military commanders, to work on shared goals and problems requiring collaboration.

Armed forces personnel and their families are important contributors to our community, as friends and neighbors, co-workers, customers of local businesses, public-spirited citizens who support worthy causes, and so much more. They’re involved in public safety, responding to emergencies such as search-and-rescue operations or natural disasters.

They also contribute to our No. 1 industry, tourism. From a travel perspective, active duty personnel, their families and retirees are tourists. They visit Hawaii from other places, on vacation or for business, just like other travelers. They enjoy the sun, sand, sea, surf and our spirit of aloha, just like other travelers. And they support local businesses, just like other travelers.

On Kauai, the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands has been a major contributor to the county’s economy.

Furthermore, the military has a direct or indirect role in the visitor industry through its connection to some of Hawaii’s top attractions. On Oahu, the USS Arizona Memorial and related Pearl Harbor historic sites, under the National Park Service, are major stops on every visitor’s itinerary. Nearby, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the new Pacific Aviation Museum make their home at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, thanks to the Defense Department. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, or Punchbowl, is the final resting place of those citizen-soldiers who defended our nation, as well as a top destination.

Considering the importance of the armed forces to our state, every effort should be made to reach out to the military to let them know we appreciate their service and to build partnerships with each branch on matters of common interest.

In the visitor industry, Outrigger Enterprises President/CEO David Carey and his staff are actively involved in promoting a close relationship with the military. David is a long-time supporter of the Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee. He demonstrates that support in the company’s operations, where key personnel are assigned to handle matters involving the armed forces. Outrigger goes so far as to donate excess furniture to military families moving to Hawaii for the first time.

May is Military Appreciation Month, and I encourage you to show your appreciation to our armed forces personnel and their families for all the good they do for us, for our nation and for the world.


Hattie Obrero
Position: Service Express Attendant
Location: Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas

Hattie Obrero, service express attendant (bell/valet) at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas for the past two years, is the “face of the resort and a welcoming first impression” for guests, exemplifying hospitality in her relations with guests and co-workers alike, say the property’s managers.

As one example of Hattie’s great pride in her job and workplace, she has almost singlehandedly become a leader and inspiration for the Villas’ volunteer recycling program. She makes a lasting impression on guests, her warmth and dependability helping to make guests’ stays all the more memorable.

Hattie is a talented but very modest musician and lei craftswoman who has shared those skills with guests and to support Princeville’s charitable endeavors.

Hattie holds another job as a security officer at the Kauai Hilton. She was nominated by the Hilton for the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s top security officer award in 2008, the same year she was a nominee for bell/valet person of the year from a former employer, Aston Islander on the Beach.

Hattie Obrero finds time to actively support civic causes like the Visitor Industry Charity Walk, Relay for Life, Kaua’i Food Bank, Great Aloha Run, her church and employee events.