Niche tourism could help economy, 'aina
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Hawai'i residents not directly employed by the tourist industry probably don't think about it, but whether tourists are happy with their vacation ultimately affects all of us.
Yes, we must diversify our economy, but the current reality is that tourism remains our primary source of revenue.
The good news in the latest Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism survey of visitor satisfaction is that the majority of tourists in the third quarter of 2007 rated their trips as excellent. However, that number declined from the same period the previous year.
While one report does not constitute a trend, it reminds all of us that Hawai'i, for all of its lush beauty, cultural diversity and aloha spirit, must actively work to attract tourists and must adapt to changing trends in the market.
As the state's strategic marketing plan notes, tourism operates in a vastly different environment that just a few years ago. Competition is fierce, and changes in lifestyles and expectations have changed travel decisions.
The most recent survey noted that over the past year there has been a constant increase of U.S. tourists not likely to return, preferring to visit someplace else. The report also showed that the number of U.S. visitors reporting Hawai'i is overdeveloped and too crowded was significantly higher than in the third quarter of 2006.
As we continue to shape the Hawai'i our children will inherit, niche tourism enterprises that celebrate the 'aina and true cultural experiences must play a greater role.
Our agriculture, our trails and ocean resources, our multiethnic cultural experiences can play an important role in creating an environment that provides tourists with new and valuable experiences that make them want to return.
We must ensure that the growing awareness of the need to nurture and sustain Hawai'i's natural and cultural resources is an integral part of our economic future.
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