Apparently there has been much to-do in the news about all the “celebrity” government dignitaries visiting Hawaii this winter season. Of course, President Obama has been vacationing on Kailua’s gorgeous beaches for the holidays, and Oahu is rejoicing in the “Obama bump” economy. As proof of this phenomenon, I received a President Obama bobble head for my car for Christmas this year. (Yes, he’s wearing an aloha shirt, lei, slippahs and giving the double shaka.)
Last week, Nancy Pelosi made a run for the Big Island’s Four Seasons Hualalai Resort. Besides the obvious, “who can blame her, it’s one of the best hotels in the world?” Everyone seems to have forgotten that Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is originally from the California Bay Area, and during “festivus” the Four Seasons is FULL of people from California. She’s networking with her constituents!! And why not mix business with pleasure? “It’s one of the best hotels in the world!” (Do you think the Speaker knows there’s a no-reserve auction on five luxury homes in Kukio and Hualalai on January 18th?)
All the fuss over the Speaker’s visit and who is paying for it and how she got here…such obvious political posturing from partisan players (ahhhh… alliteration – thanks, UCLA). What I see is simple local economics: the more high-profile people that visit the Big Island, the more other people are drawn to visit here too. The more people who visit the Big Island, the more who love it and the more who come back to visit every year. (We love our “snowbirds!”) We are an island community, one whose economy depends very heavily on both tourism and government. It’s natural for us to embrace visiting dignitaries, they bring us hope, infuse the economy with money, and make us feel that we’re not quite as separate as 5,000 miles, and a lot of big, beautiful blue ocean might suggest.