Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: May 6, 2002 May 06, 2002 Share 1 -- WEST COAST VISITORS to Hawaii were the only bright spot in a sea of negative first-quarter tourism numbers, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. The number of tourists from the West Coast increased 2.6% in the first quarter compared with last year. Visitor counts were off 8% from the East Coast and 24% from Japan. Average room rates in Hawaii slipped to $146 a night, down 3% from the first quarter of last year. Hotel occupancy was down to 70% in the first quarter from 80% last year. COST FOR 'FREE' TO HIGH? Free guided tours of Waikiki's historic trail are facing the budget ax of the Honolulu City Council, according to the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Assn., which runs the tours. The group is encouraging people to call council budget chair Ann Kobayashi at (808) 547-7005 or to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org and to call Honolulu mayor Jeremy Harris at (808) 523-4141 or to e-mail him at email@example.com to ensure funding. Funding for the free tours cost the city $88 a day, and "the return on that money is incredible when you consider that so many people will be able to take the tour and learn about Hawaii's history and experience the culture," said Dorien McClellan, program director of the NHHA.THE COASTAL AREA just west of Poipu on the Kauai coast is slated for a massive 1,045-acre resort and residential development in the next 10 to 15 years by Alexander & Baldwin, a local conglomerate. A&B's Kukui Ula project is zoned for hotel, time share, resort homes and commercial enterprises, according to a company spokeswoman. Kukui Ula Development Corp., a partnership between A&B and DMB Associates, will begin planning for the project "immediately" according to a company statement.SUNTRIPS of San Jose, Calif. is paying travel agents $25 for each booking from Oakland, Calif., to Hawaii through June 12 for travel during the same period. For every 10th passenger booked, agents get another $25. The bonus is good on air-only, complete packages, fly-drives and group bookings. Call SunTrips' sales department at (800) 786-7253.ALOHA AIRLINES is having a sale on seats from Honolulu to Vancouver, B.C., during the first month of service, which starts June 15. A limited number of seats will go for $273 roundtrip for travel through July 14. They must be purchased by May 29. For more information, visit the Web at www.alohaairlines.com.CORRECTION: An item in the March 11 E-Letter about a $20 booking bonus for travel agents at the Hyatt Regency Maui contained an incorrect phone number. The correct number to call to redeem the bonus for bookings and travel completed through May 31 at the hotel is (808) 667-4440.