Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: April 8, 2002 April 08, 2002 Share 1 -- HAWAII VISITORS AND CONVENTION BUREAU president Tony Vericella told the HTA that the Hawaii visitor industry, at least from the U.S. side, is on the rebound. "The recovery on the U.S. side is clearly under way and we have already reached prior year levels of visitors," said Vericella. "At the same time airline seats have reached 100% of prior year levels through March. By midsummer we will have tens of thousands of new airline seats in the market." VERICELLA also told the HTA that the "second quarter will be mediocre, but for all indicators we have, the summer should be better than last year." Vericella said the HVCB is not spending a whole lot of marketing money to get visitors here in the summer but is saving up for a big push in the fall, "which is the big question right now."HAWAIIAN AIRLINES reported a profit of $5.1 million last year after taking federal government grants totaling $30.8 million. In 2000, the company lost $18.6 million. Hawaiian also said it had an expense of $3.2 million associated with the failed merger with Aloha Airlines. Hawaiian still was able to make a profit in 2001, despite a 7% decrease in passengers carried, compared with the previous year.THE HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY could lose a big chunk of its $61 million a year budget for marketing the state if a bill in the state Senate passes, according to Richard Humphreys, executive director of the authority. The bill, HB 2251, cuts the HTA budget from $61 million to $50 million a year. "What if we went to $50 million?" Humphreys asked HTA members. "It's not that far fetched. That is the predicament the visitor industry is in. I hope the whole industry has contacted the legislators. A lot of people have been to the Legislature and testified to keep the $60 million, but they don't care on the Senate side."NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE'S Norwegian Star missed its weekly call at Fanning Island in Kiribati in order to rescue a crew of 11 onboard an Indonesian-flagged ship that had been adrift without power or communications for 22 days, according to NCL. The Star spotted a flare from the drifting ship April 2 about 220 miles south of the Big Island. The ship suffered a fire and explosion, which killed one crew member and seriously burned a second. The Star re-routed its itinerary so it could bring the ship within helicopter range to transport the injured sailor to Honolulu. The Star spent an extra day on Maui and some time cruising the Napali coast of Kauai.