LIHUE -- With growth in air service, more of Hawaii's visitors from
North America are choosing to stay only on Kauai. Last year,
Kauai-only westbound visitors increased 14.2% over 1997. For the
first four months of this year, the number jumped another 17.3%,
according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development
"I think everybody has more confidence in Kauai as a single
destination," said Sue Kanoho, Kauai Visitors Bureau executive
director. Kanoho contends that nonstop flights, providing easy
accessibility, are putting the island on the map as a single
Kauai lost West Coast service after Hurricane Iniki hit in
September 1992 and United pulled its Los Angeles service. Maui and
the Big Island saw a growth in nonstop flights, leaving Kauai at a
In June of last year, United resumed service with a daily
nonstop Los Angeles-Lihue flight on a 188-passenger 757 aircraft.
For the summer, it will operate another weekly nonstop San
Francisco-Lihue service, departing Saturdays June 12 through Aug.
Suntrips began a new summer weekly Lihue service from San
Francisco April 9. The nonstop Friday flight continues through Aug.
27. Sunquest will have a new weekly summer Los Angeles-Kauai/Kona
service, departing Fridays from June 18 through Aug. 27. Both
wholesale operations are divisions of North American Leisure Group,
which charters Skyservice USA DC-10s. Also, Kauai's arrivals last
winter were boosted by additional Lihue charters from Canada by
carriers Canada 3000 and Royal Airlines.
Of all the major islands, Kauai is enjoying the biggest
percentage visitor growth this year. Kauai had a total of 1,038,830
visitors last year, a 3.1% increase over 1997, with almost a third
staying only on Kauai. For the first four months of 1999, its
354,350 total visitors were up 8.4% over the same period last year,
compared with a 0.1% drop for the state overall. Westbound
visitors, totaling 315,280 (with 114,020 of them Kauai-only),
Kauai has an advantage in that it is less dependent on Hawaii's
slumping Asian markets than are the other major islands. The
westbound increase more than offset the small number of eastbound
arrivals -- a 17.3% slide, to 39,070 -- for the first four
Kanoho hopes that for 2000, Kauai can exceed its 1.27 million
visitors of 1991 (before Hurricane Iniki caused the island to lose
more than half its visitors until a revival in 1994). "The flights
have helped us a lot and things look good," she said.