Hawaii tourism surges again; airline price cuts should help

One indication that the economy may be picking up is the improvement in the number of visitors to Hawaii, following a flat 1981. Even more tourists may be tempted to visit the islands by the bargain fares offered by two airline3 joining the Los Angeles-Honolulu route.

Anticipated competition between Pacific East Air, headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif., and Hawaii Express, based in Honolulu, has triggered a cut in one-way fares to under $90. Pacific East will start flying the route June 14; Hawaii Express on July 1. United has also cut its fares to meet the new competition.

The Aloha State depends heavily on visitors to bolster the islands' economy. The visitor industry is Hawaii's most important income source. Bank of Hawaii, Honolulu, calculates visitor expenditures this year will climb to about $3.6 billion, up from 1980's $2.9 billion.

Hawaii mounted a campaign to encourage travel to the island state after noting the visitor count last year was 3,934,623 - a minuscule 119 higher than in 1980.

An upward trend has begun. January's head count was up 4.2 percent ahead of last year, while February showed a 5.9 percent gain, according to the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. Poor mainland weather was considered a factor in the traffic upswing.

The January-February total of 659,511 visitors was 5 percent ahead of the same period last year.

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