Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: July 9, 2001 July 09, 2001 Share 1 -- THE BIG ISLAND suffered a steep decline in U.S. visitor numbers through the first five months of 2001 compared with last year, according to the latest visitor statistics issued by the Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism. Domestic visitor numbers to the Big Island fell 5.2% to 368,000 through May compared with the same period last year. In addition, domestic visitors to Maui fell 4.7% to 701,000 and 4% on Kauai to 340,915 visitors for the first five months. Visitation to Oahu, Molokai and Lanai during the period hovered near flat compared with last year. THE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S office launched an inquiry into the Auto Club of Southern California after a report by Travel Weekly revealed that the AAA affiliate secretly acquired control of Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays two years ago. "Since Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays is a registered seller of travel [in California], we will look into it," said Herschel Elkins, California's senior assistant attorney general. "We take no position as to [whether] what the Auto Club did is in violation of any law." Pleasant Hawaiian, Hawaii's largest tour wholesaler, said that it has not been contacted by the attorney general's office. "We plan to cooperate," a company spokesman said.HAPPY TRAILS: Surf-board-shaped markers for the new two-mile Waikiki Historic Trail here are nearly all in place, and guides are now offering free tours six days a week. Eighteen of the 23 bronze markers with text and graphics are in place now, telling the story of Waikiki. Mondays through Fridays the tour starts at 9 a.m. at trail marker No. 1, called "Beaches of Waikiki" on the sidewalk next to the beach at the entrance to Kapiolani Park, which also is at the corner of Kalakaua and Monsarrat avenues. On Saturdays the tour starts at 4:30 p.m. There also is a Web site for the trail at www.waikikihistorictrail.com.ASTON HOTELS and the city of Honolulu are sponsoring a series of free evening concerts at the Kapiolani Park bandstand here as part of a new effort by the city to rejuvenate Waikiki. Two concerts are scheduled for Aug. 4 and Oct. 31 at 6:30 p.m. The first concert will feature two local Hawaiian bands and a hula performance. The second concert will feature a local Hawaiian band and an illusionist.THE HALEAKALA VISITOR CENTER and parking lot near the Haleakala volcano crater on Maui reopened following a four-week closure. The visitor center was closed during a road re-paving project outside the center.