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Hawaii to use Olympic surfing to attract tourists


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HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii is trying to bring in more tourists by taking advantage of surfing's elevation to Olympic sport status.

Surfing will be an official sport in the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, reported The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/2eBvMUn ).

The Hawaii Tourism Authority usually spends most of its $9.1 million sports budget on land-based events, but will start to focus on surfing and water sports as the games approach, according to Leslie Dance, the agency's vice president for marketing and product development.

The agency is working with New York-based Ascendent Sports Group to develop sports marketing for 2017-2018. Ascendent has a $200,000 contract with HTA.

HTA's marketing contractor, Hawaii Tourism Japan, will also ask Japan's Olympic Committee to allow surfing to be highlighted in the opening ceremony.

"It would be a great honor to bring all the surfers from all the teams together to celebrate the first time that surfing has been involved in the Olympics," said Eric Takahata, managing director for HTJ. "We also want the members of the U.S. team, whoever they may be, to carry the message that surfing was born in Hawaii. We don't know who will be on the U.S. surfing team, but we're hoping that it will have a Hawaii presence either through the coach or a team member."

HTA wanted Hawaii to host the Olympic surfing trials, but the team members might be selected by a point system instead, Dance said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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