From Hanalei to Hilo: The State Department's Impact on Hawai'i

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A waterfall with the words "State4States" and "Hawaii"
#State4States: The Department of State has direct impact on the state of Hawaii

From Hanalei to Hilo: The State Department's Impact on Hawai'i

The State Department benefits the American people by advancing U.S. national security, promoting our economic interests, providing services, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world. This important work directly impacts the “Aloha State” of Hawai’i. 

Hawai’i’s tropical paradise, unique culture, and laid-back atmosphere make it a dream destination for millions of tourists every year. Unsurprisingly, it’s also a top destination for exchange visitors eager to experience Hawai’i for longer than a week on the beach.  In fact, the University of Hawai’i-Manoa ranks number one among major U.S. research institutions that enrolls foreign students! The State Department plays a significant role in bringing a number of exchange visitors to Hawai’i every year. For example, in summer 2017 Fulbright Canada sponsored five Canadian students and early career professionals to participate in a course on “Special Topics in Ethnic Studies: Indigenous Leadership” at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa. The exchange of ideas on indigenous politics between Canadians and the Hawai’i-based Americans broadened perspectives and built mutual understanding, the key goal of the Fulbright Program. More recently, in January 2018, 32 rising leaders from across the Pacific attended the fifth Young Pacific Leaders Conference in Honolulu through a partnership between the State Department and the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program. The conference provided these emerging Pacific leaders with new skills and knowledge to advance the region’s economic vibrancy and civic engagement, thereby contributing to regional security and development. 

Island Breeze Tour of New Zealand during Pasifika, March 14-26, 2018

Hawai’i’s ancient Polynesian heritage and overlay of other cultures make it unique, but also relatable to our neighbors in Polynesia and across the Indo-Pacific region.  The State Department continues to find avenues to show the international community that we are all more similar than we are different. One example of this is U.S. participation at Pasifika -- the world’s largest Pacific Island cultural festival which draws 200,000 people every year. The U.S. Consulate General in Auckland has provided on-going support for the ‘Hawai’i Village’ which showcases Hawaiian culture and tourism. Since its U.S. Embassy New Zealand-funded launch in 2014, the now self-funding Hawai’i Village has become one of the most popular components of Pasifika, and has had a significant economic impact on the state of Hawai’i.  New Zealand travelers visiting Hawai’i have grown 16 percent YTD, and the associated increased volume of flights between New Zealand and Honolulu generated more than $247 million in total visitor spending over the past four years.  

Hawai’i’s beautiful natural wonders also draw millions of visitors every year. To ensure that these sites are protected, the State Department has played a role in the conservation of Hawai’i’s spectacular natural beauty. For example, in 2016 in advance of the Our Oceans Conference at the Department of State, the United States took action to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, located in Hawai’i’s waters, making it the largest contiguous fully-protected conservation area under the U.S. flag, and the world’s second largest marine protected area.  

From Hanalei to Hilo, the State Department impacts Hawai’i’s economy, marine conservation, and educational exchange programs, and as a result, news of Hawai’I’s aloha spirit continues to spread to our neighbors across the Indo-Pacific and beyond. 

Find out more about the Department of State's impact in American communities at Department of State by State

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.

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