Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: February 4, 2002

THE GOOD NEWS FIRST: Hawaii's hotels were able to raise their average rates 4% in 2001 to $146 a night from $140 a night in 2000. And now the bad news: Hawaii hotels lost $261.3 million on the year and occupancy dropped from 76.4% in 2000 to 69.8% in 2001. This is according to Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors.

ASTA IS HOPING to lure a large number of frontline travel agents to its World Congress Hawaii in November and is shooting for an attendance of 4,000 agents and 2,000 suppliers. ASTA officials and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau held their first formal meeting with Hawaii suppliers to spread the word about the convention Nov. 3 through Nov. 8. Hawaii congress chair Susan Tanzman told a group of about 35 hotel and visitor industry officials that ASTA now has about 400 agents registered, which is about half the number who normally would be signed up for an ASTA congress at this time. "I think that about half the people who attended World Congress in New York in November didn't even think they would be in business by January," Tanzman said of the slow start for this year's registration.

AIR MERGER MADNESS: The Hawaii ASTA chapter is asking its members to contact city, state and federal representatives to oppose the merger of Hawaiian and Aloha airlines. "Ultimately what we think might happen is higher prices, fewer options and worse service," said chapter president Danny Casey. Casey said the Hawaii ASTA chapter has 110 agents representing 60 agencies. The ASTA national organization already has come out against the merger as "anticompetitive and harmful to consumers."

KAUAI BECKONING AGENTS: The Kauai Visitors Bureau is for the first time going to host fam trips for travel agents, according to Edie Hafdahl, director of marketing for the bureau. Hafdahl said that in the past, the bureau participated in fam trips offered by hotels and wholesalers but never was the host. The bureau is just in the planning stages of a fam trip strategy, said Hafdahl, and details have yet to be worked out.

ROUGH SEAS: Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, the Norwegian Star, will call at Hilo instead of Kona, Hawaii, through March 31. A spokeswoman said the tendering operation in Kona was taking too long during inclement winter weather. "Hilo has a dock and people can get right on the ship," she said. A port call in Hilo also will allow passengers to take shore excursions to Volcano National Park, the spokeswoman said. NCL has not yet decided if the Star will return to Kona for the summer.

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