Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: April 29, 2002

DIAMOND HEAD State Monument on Oahu will begin charging an entrance fee to its 3,000 to 4,000 daily visitors in September, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Walk-in visitors will be charged $1 each, automobiles $5, buses holding up to 15 passengers $10, buses with 16 to 25 seats $20 and any bus with more than 26 seats will be charged $40. In the last two years, the state has renovated Diamond Head's 720-foot summit viewing area and trail to the summit, opened a visitor information booth and exhibits in the crater floor, and installed a trailhead kiosk with information about the natural and historic features of the park, according to the state land department.

THE HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau are helping fund the creation of the Hawaii Wellness Tourism Assn., a "Hawaii Wellness Vacation Guidebook" and a wellness knowledge bank. Some examples of wellness providers, according to Laura Crites who is heading up the tasks, are massage therapists, yoga instructors, acupuncturists and holistic health practitioners. "The state has told me they will start marketing wellness travel once the product is in place, and they recognize that wellness is more than resorts and spas," said Crites. "There are already all kinds of people practicing wellness here, they just don't practice in the travel industry."

THE STATE is embarking on a $1.2 million study to determine the "carrying capacity" of tourism and how it impacts the environment, infrastructure, economy and society, according to Pearl Imada-Iboshi, the state's chief economist. "We want to create an equilibrium between environment and the economy," said Imada-Iboshi. "There is a concern: 'Can we continue to grow? And how much can this industry grow?' " she told a group attending a sustainable tourism conference in Honolulu. The visitor industry's nearly 7 million yearly tourists in Hawaii "account for 25% of the economic activity in the state," Imada-Iboshi said.

HILTON HOTELS said it will purchase the outstanding 87% interest in the 562-acre, 1,241-room Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii's Big Island for $155 million. Hilton, which manages the property, already owned a 13% stake in the resort. The deal includes about $75 million in cash and 5.2 million shares of Hilton common stock. Closing is expected to occur during second-quarter 2002. The purchase by Hilton "confirms Hilton's commitment to Waikoloa Beach Resort and its confidence in the Kohala Coast's future," said Thos Rohr, president of Waikoloa Land Co., which owns the land under the Hilton.

DEVELOPER KG HOLDINGS bought the 513-room Queen Kapiolani Hotel in Waikiki, across from the Honolulu Zoo for an undisclosed sum from Sports Shinko, a Japanese firm. KG Holdings will self-manage the hotel in addition to a second Waikiki hotel, the Ocean Resort Hotel, which it bought from Sports Shinko in February.

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