Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: May 27, 2002

LITTLE ADVANCE WARNING: Hawaii's "booking window" for visitors to make the decision to travel before they get on a plane is more of a peephole these days. A recent survey of visitors to Poipu on Kauai's south shore said the booking window is down from 19 weeks in 2000 to three weeks in January and February when the poll was conducted. And bookings at Classic Custom Vacations are currently made 45 days in advance on average compared with bookings three to four months in advance before Sept. 11, according to CFO Debbie Lundquist.

CRUISES, MEXICO, inclusive resorts, Caribbean destinations and Las Vegas are five kinds of vacations more popular than Hawaii because of their price, location and client preferences, according to results of an e-mail survey of 547 people by Travel Weekly and presented at the magazine's 2002 Hawaii Leadership Forum in Waikiki May 16. Mainland theme parks, the Bahamas, international travel and sun-and-sand destinations on the mainland also were Hawaii's competition, according to those who answered the question asking "...which of the following are more popular than Hawaii with your clients?" Fifty percent of respondents said the reason other vacation products are more popular is price; Hawaii being too far away was chosen by 24%; and 19% said their clients' preferences simply were in the cruise or all inclusive category over Hawaii.

PAUL CASEY, the CEO of Hawaiian Airlines will leave the company June 30. Casey, who also is vice chairman and president of the company, said in a statement he is "ready to take some time off." Hawaiian Airlines chairman John Adams will take over the CEO and president jobs until a replacement is found, according to the company. Casey's name has surfaced in Hawaii in recent days as a candidate for the executive director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. That job currently is filled on a voluntary basis by Richard Humphreys who took the job temporarily after executive director Bob Fishman left the HTA last fall.

HAWAIIAN also reported a first-quarter loss of $18.6 million. The company said some its expenses during the period were a $3.3 million charge related to its failed merger with Aloha Airlines and an $8.2 million increase in wages and benefits. The airline noted that during the quarter the total number of visitors to Hawaii declined by 11%, and Hawaiian had a 4.4% decrease in the number of passengers it carried compared with the same quarter last year.

HOTEL OCCUPANCY in Hawaii dropped almost 10 percentage points in the first quarter from 80.1% last year to 70.7% this year, according to Hospitality Advisors, which tracks hotels in the state. Average room rates statewide fell just 3% during the period from $151 a night to $146 a night. Room rates in different categories had a wide range during the quarter. For example, the average room rate of budget hotels in Hawaii was $64 a night while the average nightly rate for luxury hotels was $230 a night, according to Hospitality Advisors.

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