by Jessica McDunn, University Relations
|An HPU Travel Industry Management
professor is using the Honolulu Marathon as an example of the
global strengths of tourism.
Dr. Jerome Agrusa and a team of HPU TIM students surveyed runners
participating in the 34th Honolulu Marathon last month in order
to evaluate the impact of runners from Japan on the local economy.
More than 28,000 runners signed up for the 2006 run. Agrusa is
trying to determine how many of these traveled to Hawai‘i
from Japan and how many brought family and friends to cheer them
on. His results have already impressed Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
What’s particularly interesting and exciting,” said
Hannemann, “is the revelation that more than 90 percent
of the runners said they would return, not to run in the marathon,
but to visit Hawai‘i.”
In 2005, more than 17,000 runners were from Japan, and it’s
believed that more than 30,000 additional Japanese tourists visited
the islands during the same time period. Also, 16 of the top
25 finishers were from Japan.
The (economic) impact is so much larger than just the runners,” said
Agrusa. “This is probably the largest single event for
tourism in Hawai‘i.”
Hannemann said “This study confirms what we’ve known
all along: The Honolulu Marathon is not only a premier sporting
event, but also a vital part of Hawai‘i’s economy.
It generated more than $100 million in visitor spending [in 2005],
at what used to be a slow time of year for the visitor industry.”
Since Agrusa began analyzing the race in 2001, his findings have
appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine, and
organizers of the Honolulu Marathon have come to depend on the
statistics provided by the HPU professor and his students.
I think it’s great that the students get to use what they
learn in the classroom,” said Agrusa. He added: “They
get to meet people and realize that tourism is really significant
The lesson is not lost on the students. “Helping out at
events like this is a great opportunity for networking,” said
TIM junior Mel Smith. “We really get a feel for what we
will be doing when we graduate from HPU,” Smith added. “This
kind of study provides the Honolulu economy with the opportunity
to forecast for events like this, to plan ahead, and to budget.”
With the success of this study, Agrusa is hoping to study other
local events. “We’re told this type of project should
be done for all events in Hawai‘i,” Agrusa said.
According to Hanne-mann, three-fourths of the marathoners felt
Hawai‘i should be expanding its sports tourism market with
other amateur events, including running, bicycling, and swimming.
Honolulu Marathon sponsors included JAL, Nike, DC, Konami, Amino-Value,
DoCoMo, and Satohap. Charity groups included Leukemia and Lymphoma
SocietyTeam in Training Program, The National AIDS Marathon Training
Progam, Joints in Motion, Team ACS, and Team DiabetesCanada.
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