Just as Hawaii's trade winds bring cooling breezes to the popular vacation destination, high prices may be putting a chill on the state's tourism industry. The effects, say local promoters, include slowing growth, declining visitor spending and fewer opportunities for bargain-hunting travelers.
"There are fewer economy travelers than there used to be," said John Lindelow, owner of Travel Hawaii in Kailua, on the east shore of Oahu, who cites higher hotel rates as a major cause. "They're making it into a higher-end destination."
Travelers from the mainland, in particular, are feeling the squeeze. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, 378,061 travelers arrived from the other 49 states in January, a drop of 4.4 percent from the year before.