Kauai retools for another big year

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HONOLULU -- More than 25 hotels, villas, restaurants and shops are scheduled to open on Kauai this year, and tourism officials said the island is ready for an influx of visitors that will surpass last years record.

More than 1 million people visited Kauai in 2004, a number the island hadnt seen since 1989, according to Susan Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau (KVB).

Although its natural beauty will still be the No. 1 message of Kauai, Mike Murakoshi, KVB board chairman, laid out new initiatives for delegates to the bureaus annual meeting.

New walking tours will expose visitors to the people of Kauai and their legends, Murakoshi said. And we will step up golf and romance aspects this year.

The islands Kiahuna Golf Club received a $4 million upgrade, and the new Aloha Center shopping complex at Nawiliwili Harbor caters to the des- tination-shopping trend, Murakoshi said.

The Aloha Center, which is already drawing Norwegian Cruise Line passengers because of its proximity to the port, features vendors selling local jewelry, crafts and art objects.

Plans for the center to house a historical learning area, an artisans gathering place and a coffee shop are in the works, he said.

The ecoadventure side of Kauai is booming, Kanoho said, with companies such as the Princeville Ranch and Kauai Back Country offering a range of activities such as horseback riding, white-water rafting, kayaking, hiking, mountain tubing and zipline tours. And Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours recently began operations on Kauai. 

In other business, the KVB reorganized its marketing department and the Kauai

Destination Specialist (KDS) program.

The KVB appointed two specialists from within the organization to new roles.

A third position, travel industry sales manager, will be filled in the near future, according to the KVB.

Edie Hafdahl took over as director of sales and marketing. Brooke Miller, sales coordinator, is now responsible for familiarization trips, maintaining the KVBs Web site and supporting the KDS program.

Four KDS programs will take place this year, one in May and the others in the fall, according to the KVB.

Hafdahl will work closely with Australian and New Zealand travel agents.

The bureau expects this market to increase with the help of Hawaiian Airlines new direct service to and from Australia, Hafdahl said.

For visitor information, call the KVB at (800) 262-1400 or visit www.kauaidiscovery.com.

To contact reporter Brian Berusch, send e-mail to [email protected].

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