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HONOLULU – The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), Meet Hawaii and the state’s tourism industry leaders celebrated the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) as the Elele Organization of the Year for its outstanding work in helping to bring more than $100 million in convention business to the state.

SOEST’s Dean Brian Taylor accepted the award on behalf of the university system on Dec. 7 at Hawaii Convention Center. It is the second award from HTA/Meet Hawaii given to an entire organization.

“The University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology has played an integral role in securing convention business for the state,” said Randy Baldemor, Chief Operating Officer for the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “The international and national relationships of our Elele ambassadors are important for maintaining and expanding our repertoire of business. We greatly appreciate their efforts and look forward to continued partnership in the coming years.”

Since the opening of the Hawaii Convention Center in 1998, UH’s Elele (ambassadors) have helped bring a half-billion dollars worth of convention business to Hawaii. Specifically, since 2002 SOEST has generated a total of $57.75 million YTD with repeat bookings for the Ocean Sciences Meeting and the Ocean Research Conference. Additionally, SOEST has assisted Meet Hawaii in securing definite future conventions with estimated economic impact of $38.5 million. Future  conventions with SOEST affiliation include the International Coral Reef Symposium and Acoustical Society of America and Acoustical Society of Japan in 2016, the Ocean Sciences Meeting and Geological Society of America – Cordilleran Section in 2017 and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society in 2018. Finally, SOEST also has generated an estimated $37.3 million in tentative future bookings.

“It is an honor to receive this award from Meet Hawaii. In our fields of study, Hawaii provides rich experiences and priceless research opportunities found nowhere else in the world,” said Taylor. “We are grateful for this partnership and feel privileged to serve as hosts for such an amazing destination.” The following individuals and organizations were also recognized for their notable contributions to securing convention business for the state:

  • • Dr. Greg Moore – UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
  • • Dr. Magdy Iskander – UH College of Engineering
  • • Dr. Jeff Akaka and the Hawaii Medical Association

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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About Meet Hawaii
Meet Hawaii is a collaboration of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and Hawaii Convention Center (HCC) to reinforce the brand of the Hawaiian Islands as a world-class destination for business meetings, conventions, and incentive programs. The marketing efforts of the Meet Hawaii team are overseen by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state of Hawaii’s tourism agency. HTA was established in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawaii tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with the state of Hawaii’s economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs. For information about Meet Hawaii and the hosting of meetings, conventions and incentives, please visit

Meet Hawaii
Nathan Kam
Anthology Marketing Group                                                                            
(808) 539-3471                                                            

Michelle Hee
Account Executive
Anthology Marketing Group
(808) 539-3474

Kelli Abe Trifononovitch
Director of Communications and Outreach
University of Hawaii
(808) 228-8108