Great article by Allison Schaefers of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on the economic impacts of North Shore's historic surf contests:
The North Shore’s economy is riding high for the start of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which was slated to begin today and is expected to pump millions of dollars into Hawaii over the next few months.
The Vans Triple Crown series, which includes the Hawaiian Pro, the World Cup of Surfing and the Pipe Masters, was founded in 1982 by local surfers Randy Rarick and Fred Hemmings. The professional surfing benchmark events are organized by the World Surf League (WSL), which broadcasts them on WorldSurfLeague.com.
Tourists and local spectators are expected to swell more than usual for Hawaii’s newly crowned WSL world champion John John Florence, who has come home to compete in all three events. The championships bring about 200 WSL athletes, their families and professional staff. It also adds about 200 production people, about 30 percent of them out-of-towners. Vendors, judges and officials make up the mix, too.
“(Surfing) is not the only thing that brings people here, but the impact has really defined the region,” said Jodi Wilmott, WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui general manager. “Most people know Hawaii as a whole as the birthplace of surfing and professional surfing. We’re celebrating 40 years of competitive surfing this winter.”
The most recent formal economic impact study on the event, released by Brigham Young University in 2011, estimated the six-week event brings $10.9 million in direct spending and $20.9 million in indirect spending to Hawaii, Wilmott said.
WSL’s investment in Hawaii during the entire winter season is approximately $8 million, including the women’s championship tour and the Pe‘ahi Challenge. But Wilmott said the lion’s share is delivered through the Vans Triple Crown series, which is expected to begin today with the Hawaiian Pro and will run through Dec. 20.
“Those estimates are conservative. I think you could easily double what we saw (in 2011),” she said.
The increasing popularity of WSL broadcasts adds another economic dimension, Wilmott said.
“We’ll produce 100 hours of live broadcasting through the Vans Triple Crown series, but Pipe Masters alone is the equivalent of a full season of ‘Monday Night Football,’ ” she said. “So many of surfing’s key markets are top visitor source markets for Hawaii — we’ve got large followings in Europe, South America, the U.S. West Coast, Asia and Australia.”
The North Shore is one of the main places that tourists want to visit besides Waikiki to see the waves, said Glen Moncata, Quiksilver’s Pacific Basin director of sales and marketing.
“Mid-November throughout February — that’s when the North Shore does most of their money,” Moncata said “People love to see daredevils. You know it’s like when Evel Knievel was a motorcycle rider jumping over the Grand Canyon. People are asking themselves, ‘Are these guys going to do this?’”
This year’s competitive surf season has just begun, but Backpackers, a vacation rental business, already is seeing gains, said front desk manager Anthony Parsons.
“The winter occupancy goes up about 50 percent at least, maybe even more,” said Parsons, a North Shore resident. “There’s lots of traffic on the North Shore, and business is up all over — from the food trucks to Foodland.”
Ellie Garcia, a nanny from Bellingham, Wash., and her two young charges, Jordynn and Shay Campbell, said the three plan to go down to Alii Beach to see the Hawaiian Pro.
“I’m a huge fan of surfing, but I wouldn’t touch those waves,” said Garcia, who was eating shave ice at Matsumoto’s on Friday. “I can’t wait to watch the professional surfers. It’s beautiful to watch them put their whole heart and soul into it. Without surfing, the North Shore wouldn’t be the same experience.”