Roco seeks more Asian tourism opportunities


U.S. Senate hopeful John Roco said he’s a strong proponent of opening Hawaii and the rest of the country up to more Chinese tourists.

“I would support any way of getting people from China in,” said Roco, who is seeking the Republican nomination. “That is something I would really like to push.”

Roco completed an internship in China, which gave him some familiarity with the country, he said.

His top issue is protecting religious institutions’ freedoms from what he sees as intrusive legislation that requires them to act against their own beliefs.

“This is about some of our freedoms being taken away,” Roco said. “Religious nonprofits are being forced to pay for pills that could cause abortions for employees.”

To continue fighting against the legislation he said is infringing on religious organizations’ rights, Roco founded St. Damien Advocates.

The economy is also a “huge” issue in Hawaii, Roco said, as is the concern over food sustainability.

The state could only last days if shipping was cut off to the state for some reason.

If elected, Roco said he would consider voting across party lines.

“I would look at what it is and what’s the best situation for the people of Hawaii,” he said. “What is the right thing to do here?”