Tuesday, May 17, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and other local leaders Wednesday greeted the first planeload of visitors from Shanghai as part of an effort to increase island visits from China.
Kaui Tanaka, an aide to the mayor, said the arrival of 143 young executives and their families represent the first of at least three more flights from China scheduled to visit Kaua‘i during the next few months.
“We are honored such a distinguished group of guests have come all the way from Shanghai to visit Kaua‘i,” Carvalho said in welcoming the visitors.
“Hawai‘i recently hosted the 2011 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum in Honolulu. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host dignitaries from around the world, including China, and one which will continue to benefit Hawai‘i for years to come,” the mayor said.
Carvalho said the visitors were the first Corporate Meeting Incentive group from China and he was pleased to see the effects of the APEC conference in November bear fruit.
Shuli Tsai, a Kaua‘i coordinator for the trip, said the group annually travels to various destinations around the world, spending about a week conducting motivational work for its employees.
“This year, they had about 20 places, including destinations like Kenya in Africa, to choose from, and they selected Kaua‘i,” Tsai said. “This is the first time they’ve come here.”
President Barack Obama on Jan. 19 announced a new national strategy to boost tourism, including making it easier for visitors from China, Brazil and elsewhere to travel to the United States, states a news release from U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai‘i. Hirono has been a strong backer of efforts to increase foreign visitor visits to the state, including efforts to simplify visa rules.
“As someone who grew up in Hawai‘i, President Obama clearly understands the importance of tourism,” Hirono said in the release. “Shortening visa wait times and expanding the Global Entry and Visa Waiver programs will help us compete globally and attract more visitors while maintaining our national security.”
At the Lihu‘e Airport, cameras clicked and video whirred as the arriving passengers were greeted with lei, live music and hula, coordinated by the county’s Office of Economic Development and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau.
Carvalho said Kaua‘i has a sister city relationship with the port city of Quinhuangdao in China’s Hebei Province.
Tanaka said Tsai’s assistant is originally from Kaua‘i’s sister city.
“We are always looking for ways to reconnect with our sister city friends,” Carvalho said.
“This is special for us that we are able to host all of you this week,” he said. “Kaua‘i is a very special place to us and we want to share that with each of you.”
The 2011 APEC forum in Honolulu was the largest event of its kind hosted in Hawai‘i for the 20 APEC member countries.
The APEC forum met in Japan in 2010.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.
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