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Hawaii Tourism names Elele Program as “Organization of the Year”

Hawaii Tourism names Elele Program as “Organization of the Year”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), Meet Hawaii, and the state’s tourism industry honored the University of Hawaii’s College of Engineering (UH COE) as the Elele “Organization of the Year” on March 30, for its role in securing more than $170 million in convention business to the state. It also recognized the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress as the “2016 Hawaii Global Meeting of the Year.”

Magdy Iskander, Ph.D., UH COE director of the Hawaii Center for Advanced Communications and Electrical Engineering professor, Wayne Shiroma, Ph.D., UH COE Electrical Engineering Department chair and professor, and Ron Riggs, Interim UH COE dean, accepted the awards on behalf of the University of Hawaii at a special recognition celebration at the Hawaii Convention Center (HCC). This marks the third time HTA/Meet Hawaii has given this Elele honor to an entire organization.

Since the opening of the Hawaii Convention Center in 1998, Dr. Iskander has helped secure $65 million in convention business focused on various aspects of electrical engineering. Dr. Shiroma has also been instrumental in bringing high profile engineering meetings to the state, including the upcoming International Microwave Symposium (IMS), which will take place this June. This is the second time Dr. Shiroma is serving as convention chair, the last time being in 2007, and this gathering is estimated to bring 8,000 attendees to the HCC. The total economic impact of hosting the two IMS meetings is $75 million.

“It’s because of the hard work and invaluable relationships our Elele bring to our Meet Hawaii team that the Hawaiian Islands are able to compete for and secure these important meetings,” said Leslie Dance, HTA’s vice president of marketing and product development. “In most cases, if it wasn’t for people like Dr. Iskander and Dr. Shiroma’s influential involvement in these key organizations, Hawaii wouldn’t have been able to bid on these meetings. On behalf of HTA and the Meet Hawaii teams, we thank and congratulate the University of Hawaii’s College of Engineering staff for their partnership and contributions in helping us grow Hawaii’s meetings, conventions and incentive business.”

The following individuals and organizations were also recognized for their notable Elele contributions to Hawaii’s MCI industry:

• Larry Cutshaw and Dr. Vassilis Syrmos – Association for University Technology Managers Western Regional Meeting – September 2016

• Dr. David Garmire and Dr. Jason Leigh – IEEE Computer Society Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition – July 2017

• Dr. Ike Ahmed – American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Annual Meeting – March 2018

• Dr. Ken Rubin – Geochemical Society Goldschmidt Conference – June 2020

• Dr. Chris Ostrander – NASA Ocean Observation Conference – September 2019

• Jon Corbin (past WAS convention chair), Todd Lowe (Department of Agriculture), Dr. Darren Lerner and Dr. Darren Okimoto (UH Sea Grant), Dr. Andre Seale (CTAHR), Fred Lau (Mari’s Garden), Ron Weidenbach (Hawaii Aquaculture and Aquaponics Association) and James Nakatani (Agribusiness Development Corporation) – World Aquaculture Society Annual Meeting – February 2020

The Elele Program also honored the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress as its 2016 Hawaii Global Meeting of the Year for successfully hosting this landmark conference for the first time in the United States which brought 10,000 participants to Oahu, Sept. 1-10, 2016. The event, which received the distinguished ISO 20121 certification for sustainability earlier this year, had an economic impact of $47 million to Hawaii’s economy and enabled HCC to showcase its world-class meeting facilities and demonstrate its capabilities for hosting a large event, while satisfying the stringent sustainability requirements expected by the conference organizers.

Through the HTA Elele Program, Meet Hawaii partners with community leaders who have ties to national and international organizations in pursuit of mutually beneficial meetings for the Hawaii Convention Center and the Hawaiian Islands. Using their lifetime of professional relationships, the Elele have worked in cooperation with the tourism industry to attract dozens of important meetings and conventions to the state, including the Lion’s Club International, International Astronomical Union and IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.

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