Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-letter: Feb. 4, 2008

THE NUMBER OF TRAVELERS to Hawaii dipped last year for the first time since 2003, but the state's tourism bureau spun that as part of a plan. Hawaii is more than willing to trade plane-loads of mass-market travelers who helped drive its annual arrivals numbers to a record high 7.4 million for a lesser number of high-spending visitors from the mainland U.S. and Canada, said the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau's tourism marketing plan for North America leisure travel. "We continue to be encouraged by the increase in visitor spending as well as ongoing growth in the number of visitors from markets such as Canada, Hawaii's fourth largest market, and the strong performance of Hawaii's cruise industry," said Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison. Daily visitor spending in 2007 increased 2.5% statewide, to $182 per person.

PANDA TRAVEL, an agency based in Honolulu, launched a Hawaii travel-booking site targeted to gay men and women at HawaiiGayTravel.com. Panda Travel, a member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, sells air, hotel and car rental packages to Hawaii. A Hot Special Deals page features a list of package upgrades and promotions, including plans for commitment ceremonies and anniversaries as well as discounted trips to other destinations. Users can access offline assistance from Panda Travel's agents before, during and after their vacation.

IF PROPOSED CHANGES by the U.S. Customs Service to the Passenger Vessel Services Act go into effect, they will affect Hawaii cruising. The new rules would increase the time required in foreign ports for foreign-flagged cruise ships linking two American ports, such as Holland America's cruises between San Diego and Honolulu. A 15-day itinerary would have to add three or more days in foreign ports to accommodate the proposed changes.

10.1 MILLION PEOPLE visited Hawaii state parks in 2007, according to a study by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and two-thirds of them were from out of state. Among the 6.7 million out-of-state visitors to Hawaii state parks, almost 90% were from North America. Among out-of-state visitors, Wailua River State Park on Kauai had the highest attendance at 808,000. Nu'uanu Pali State Wayside had the second-highest attendance at nearly 700,000. Ha'ena State Park on Kauai followed at more than 600,000. Diamond Head State Monument on Oahu ranked fourth at more than 500,000 visitors. Na Pali Coast on Kauai ranked fifth, Waimea Canyon on Kauai sixth, Hapuna Beach on the Big Island seventh, Iao Valley State Monument on Maui eighth, Makena State Park on Maui ninth and Koke'e State Park on Kauai 10th.

RESORTQUEST HAWAII continues its inventory expansion with the addition of the Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki and the Aloha Beach Hotel on Kauai as ResortQuest Hawaii-marketed properties. ResortQuest will not assume management at either property. The Ilikai and the Aloha Beach are both scheduled to undergo renovations.

Hawaii Editor: Allan Seiden

Phone: (808) 734-4677

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the Hawaii E-letter, contact Debbie Joseph at [email protected].

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