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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 23, 2006

Word from Kaua'i: Come!

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

A barrage of out-of-state inquiries after last week's fatal Kaloko dam disaster has prompted Kaua'i government and tourism officials to step up efforts to reassure travelers the island is open for business.

"Kaua'i's airport, its harbor and businesses are open and ready to accept our visitors in the same way they always have," Kaua'i Mayor Bryan Baptiste said in a news release distributed nationally yesterday. "Kaua'i's aloha spirit remains intact, and the island is green and beautiful."

Hundreds of people have been calling the Kaua'i Visitors Bureau's toll-free number and Lihu'e office since last week, inquiring about the weather and wondering if they should cancel their trips to the island, according to Sue Kanoho, executive director of the bureau. Some were under the incorrect impression the entire island was devastated.

A couple of hotels have reported a few cancellations, Kanoho said.

The Princeville Resort and the Sheraton Kauai Resort had a few initial cancellations, but nothing substantial, said a spokeswoman for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Hawaii. The Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club reported a few more cancellations a day than usual.

Callers usually feel better once they learn flights are operating normally and that all accommodations, activities and major roads are open, Kanoho said.

"Once they talk to somebody and they get the facts, they're like, 'Oh, OK. I'm still coming.' So really the goal is to make sure they understand exactly what's going on on the island."

Kanoho said the bureau posted on its Web site (www.kauaidiscovery.com) common questions and answers about the situation on Kaua'i and also sent that information to travel agents and wholesalers.

Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com.