Sen. Daniel Inouye, advocate for Hawaii tourism, dies at 88

By Rebecca Tobin
Daniel InouyeDaniel Inouye, the senior senator from Hawaii who served nine consecutive terms and was a strong advocate for the tourism industry in the Aloha State and on the national stage, died Monday. He was 88.

A statement on Inouye's official Senate website said he died at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., from respiratory complications.

"During his eight decades of public service, Dan Inouye helped build and shape Hawaii," the statement said.

Mike McCartney, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said that Inouye was "a true advocate for Hawaii and a strong supporter of Hawaii's largest economic industry, tourism."

Inouye was a co-sponsor of the Travel Promotion Act, which established Brand USA, a nonprofit corporation that promotes travel to the U.S.

McCartney said that Inouye's guidance helped bring to the Hawaiian Islands the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a forum of Pacific Rim countries that promotes open trade. "We were able to showcase Hawaii on an international stage, beyond the surf and sand," McCartney said.

McCartney also cited Inouye's initiatives to modernize airports, Taiwan's entry to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program and "supporting the Hawaiian culture and natural environment."

"Even up until last week, Senator Inouye was working toward efforts to secure Kona as a second international port of entry for the state," he said.

Inouye was an advocate for interisland cruising in Hawaii; in 2003 he inserted a provision in an appropriations bill that enabled Norwegian Cruise Line to sail up to three foreign-built ships in Hawaii without having to call at a foreign port. Norwegian's Pride of America continues to operate seven-day Hawaii voyages.

Inouye served as Hawaii's first congressman following statehood in 1959. He successfully ran for Senate in 1962.

During his 50 years in the Senate, Inouye held several positions of authority, including chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Commerce Committee.

Inouye's office said his public service began in 1941, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. He served with Company E of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and received a Medal of Honor for actions during a battle in San Terenzo, Italy, where he lost his arm charging a series of machine gun nests.

He is survived by his wife, Irene; son Daniel Ken Jr.; a stepdaughter; and a granddaughter. His first wife, Margaret, died in 2006.
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