Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: April 1, 2002

NEITHER of Hawaii's two airlines, Hawaiian Airlines nor Aloha Airlines, have hacked their travel agent commission structures -- yet. Hawaiian Airlines pays travel agents 5% commission with no cap. A spokesman said the airline was still considering its options to change that policy. Aloha Airlines has not changed its commissions either, and it too, has a commission structure of 5% with no cap.

A STAR IN HILO: Norwegian Cruise Line decided to make Hilo the permanent port of choice for the Norwegian Star on the Big Island, instead of Kona on the other side of the island. The Star started calling at Hilo this winter, where it can pull up to a dock in a calm harbor. That was after it experienced rough seas and a lack of tender service on the Kona side where it had to anchor in open water.

THE NUMBER OF West Coast visitors to Hawaii during January and February grew 1.6% compared with the same period last year, which is the only bright spot in a bleak year, so far, according to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. The number of visitors from the East Coast dropped 8.5% in January and February; numbers from Japan were down 27%; and Canada numbers were down 15.8% during the two months. Overall, visitor count was down 12.9%, according to the department.

STATEWIDE HOTEL OCCUPANCY in February was 80% in February, according to PKF-Hawaii, one of two firms tracking hotel numbers in the state. February's occupancy figure was 7% below that of February 2001. Even so, it shows that Hawaii's tourism problems are on the mend. "February was the first month since 9-11 that showed less than double-digit decreases in occupancy," said Ernie Watari, PKF chairman. The average daily room rate in February was $154 a night, compared to $162 a night last February, according to PKF.

APPLE VACATIONS is giving away a free inter-island air fare with the purchase of a seven-night or longer package using Outrigger hotels that includes more than one island, a savings of about $110. For example, two nights on Oahu and seven nights on the Big Island with a rental car there starts at $889 per person, double. Check out www.applevacations.com.

OWNERS of the Sheraton Molokai Lodge & Beach Village are planning a 38-room expansion to their 22-room lodge. Brierley Investments currently is drawing up plans for the expansion, which should be complete a year from July, according to lodge general manager Kenny Ching. Brierley also recently agreed to buy the nearby Kaluakoi Resort from Kukui Inc., which is currently closed. Ching said Brierley is looking at getting the resort's golf course back in action -- it hasn't been watered since January -- so the Sheraton can offer its clients golf.

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