UH Unit Hosts Kauai & Hilo Conferences to Spur Island Economies

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Mar 22, 2001

The Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit of the University of Hawaii Manoawill be hosting two conferences in 2001 in Kauai and Hilo, expected to generateat least $3.0 Million.

The first conference, the Pacific Seabird Group, was held at the RadissonKauai Beach Resort in Lihue in February, and had 200 attendees. The conference,co-sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, explored the biologyand conservation of seabirds, with a special emphasis on Japan and Hawaii.

The second conference, the annual meeting of the Society for ConservationBiology will be held in late July in Hilo and will be jointly sponsoredby the U.S. Geological Survey. The conference, which will be held at theUH Hilo campus, will explore the sustainability of island ecosystems. Theconference will offer extensive after-conference tours both on the islandand to Midway.

Professor David Duffy, head of the PCSU, commented, "Annual meetingsof scientific societies represent a niche market that could be greatly expandedif the tourism industry worked more closely with the UH academic community.Scientists extend their stays after meetings for family vacations. Suchmeetings often spur island-based research projects that help the local economyand can generate extensive publicity. The Galapagos Islands never had topay for their publicity; it came for free as Prince Phillip and David Attenboroughreported on Galapagos research and conservation projects. Hawaii is twentyyears behind."

Even smaller societies are worth pursuing, as they can be accommodatedon the Neighbor Islands, while bigger meetings are limited to Waikiki. Manysocieties value the closer link to nature and Hawaiian culture that is possibleon the outer islands. "The economic stimulus of a 200-person conferenceon Kauai is probably much greater than would be a 1,000 person meeting onOahu," says Duffy.

The Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit is a joint project of the U.S. GeologicalSurvey, the National Park Service and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.Last year it brought in over $6 million in research funds and generatedover 160 jobs, mostly in rural areas on the Big Island and Maui.