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Entries in Hawaii (3)

Tuesday
Jan312012

Hawaii Tourism Rebounds; The New and Notable

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- Hawaii's tourism industry has rebounded to 2007 levels, reports The Wall Street Journal. This is good news for the island chain battered by a recession, significant air service reductions, the departure of two cruise ships and a downturn in Japanese tourists thanks to the March 2010 earthquake and tsunami.

The fiftieth state is perhaps seen -- at least by travelers -- as our nation’s most exotic destination. Longer flights mean higher ticket prices. Still, if you’re going all the way to Hawaii, you might as well stay awhile. According to travel booking site Travelocity, the average length of stay in Honolulu was eight days in 2011, compared to five days in South Florida, another popular beach destination.  All those nights in a hotel room add up fast -- and add to the perception that the Aloha State is a dream destination.  In other words, Hawaii may not be the first vacation destination when you’re watching your spending.

Whether it’s been a few years since your last visit or you’re planning your very first trip, there’s no denying that the islands are back on travelers’ “must-visit” list. Here’s what’s new in Hawaii over the last few years:

Air

Hawaiian Airlines will introduce a new non-stop flight between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Honolulu International Airport starting June 5. Alaska Airlines has increased its service to Hawaii in the last few years and will begin daily service from Honolulu to San Jose and Oakland on April 10.

For travelers who want to make Hawaii a stopover on their way to Asia, Hawaiian Airlines has expanded its route network to include three cities in Asia including Haneda International Airport (Tokyo, Japan), Incheon International Airport (Seoul, South Korea), and Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan).  Hawaiian Airlines will also begin service to Fukuoka, Japan beginning in April.

Attractions

After two years of construction, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on Oahu opened in November 2010. The $58 million facility houses five sites that make up the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Also on Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center has begun a $38 million renovation to include new restaurants, shows and activities.

Hotels

On Kauai’s North Shore, the St. Regis Princeville Resort (previously the Princeville Resort ) opened in 2009. It houses Hawaii’s first Jean-Georges restaurant, the Kauai Grill. The same year, the 121-room Koa Kea Hotel & Resort opened on Poipu Beach. Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk also opened in 2009.

In 2010, the former Waikiki Edition re-opened as The Modern Honolulu complete with Morimoto Waikiki, a new restaurant by the world-renowned Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

In 2011, Disney opened it's first property in Hawaii on Oahu. Aulani, a 21-acre resort, features both guest rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas. Also on Poipu Beach, the Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach officially opened in April 2011 and is still under construction. The hotel’s website offers special rates due to construction.

Maui’s secluded eastern shore is the new home of Travaasan Hana, made up of 70 cottages and suites with an all-inclusive and a la carte option for guests. Opening in June 2011, the hotel's all-inclusive option also includes a daily spa treatment.

Other notable renovations include the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and Kauai Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach (Kauai); the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (Oahu); The Fairmont Kea Lani and Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa (Maui); and The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (Big Island).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May192011

Japanese Disaster Affects Tourism in Hawaii; Moody's Cuts State's Credit Rating

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While known for its stunning beaches and beautiful flora, Hawaii's economy has seen sunnier days. The state's bonds were downgraded by credit agency Moody's Investors Service, though they're still at least a notch above troubled New Jersey, California and Illinois in terms of fiscal stability.

Hawaii's outstanding general obligation bonds were downgraded from Aa1 to Aa2 because of the state's "strained financial operations," the credit rating agency said. That will make borrowing more expensive for Hawaii, which already has $5.1 billion in outstanding debt.

The Aa2 designation is one out of 10 possible ratings and two steps away from the best possible rating of AAA, but it still sheds light on an economy some say could be too closely entwined with tourism.

"It's always been a premier tourist destination -- a lot of international tourism, not just U.S. domestic, but this recession was so severe and hit globally and domestically so it really affected them," Nicole Johnson, senior analyst with Moody's public finance group, said.

Alan Schankel, director of fixed income research with Janney Capital Markets, said Hawaii is more reliant on tourism than most states, if not all states, and increasing airlines fares also create a barrier for tourists. "You can't just jump in a car and go to Hawaii," he said.

However, Johnson, who wrote Moody's latest report and gave the state a "stable" outlook, said Hawaii will remain a "premier" tourism destination.

"Their forecast is there will be a temporary drop in Japanese tourists but they expect that to come back," she said. "It has remained very popular with West Coast travelers because it's not so far, and in fact some of them have homes there."

Mike McCartney, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said while the recovery progress has been slowed by the tragedy in Japan, the state is doing better than projected. There was a 23.3-percent decrease in visitors from Japan in April compared to last year, not as bad as the 45-percent decrease that was expected.

For the first quarter of this year, visitor spending was up 16.9 percent compared to the same period last year, adding $3.1 billion for Hawaii's economy. The latest tally shows that the total number of visitors who arrived in March 2011 rose to 633,365 -- up 4.2 percent from a year ago. The Tourism Authority has not yet released April's figures.

However, the Hawaiian government has "already taken actions" to fix their fiscal problems and will deplete their "rainy day fund" that's designated for emergencies, by the end of this year, according to Johnson.

"So it doesn't give them a lot of flexibility, and they probably won't rebuild it for a couple of years," she said. "But if revenues begin to turn around, they are projected to stabilize."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar112011

Japan Earthquake, Tsunami Sends Stock Futures Down

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The massive earthquake in northeast Japan is having an impact on global financial markets.

Asian and European stock averages are down, as is oil. U.S. stock futures fell after the market's big drop Thursday when the Dow Jones index lost 228 points.

Light sweet crude is now trading at just over $101 per barrel compared to $105 earlier this week. The dollar has strengthened against the Japanese yen.

The damage to the Japanese economy will take some time to assess. Tsunami warnings are in effect for Hawaii, all of the U.S. West Coast, and Pacific Ocean nations.

In other financial news, the federal government  has released February's deficit number: $223 billion. The deficit is on track to reach a record high this year.

China's inflation number was 4.9 percent last month, well above the target.

U.S. sales of video game hardware and software sales rose in February, helped by the popularity of the Xbox 360 and its Kinect motion sensing game system.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio