(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:
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.
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.
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).
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