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Kauai Weathers Helicopter Accident

March 19, 2007 By: Camie Foster Travel Agent

Two recent tour helicopter crashes on Kauai had provoked some visitor inquiries but no cancellations from visitors or tour operators as of press time. A Heli USA Airways helicopter crashed on March 8 leaving the pilot and three visitors dead; one passenger died in an Inter-Island Helicopters tour on March 11. One company briefly ceased flights; other operators have continued their flights.  Helicopter flightseeing in Kauai's Waimea Canyon

"These are isolated incidents, and I don't expect these unfortunate crashes to affect what visitors do when they come to our islands, or in their choosing Hawaii as a destination," says Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison.

The Kauai Visitors Bureau had fielded a couple of calls from travelers arriving within the next few weeks who were looking for information in considering whether they should continue with plans for a helicopter tour, says Sue Kanoho, KVB executive director. "We encouraged them to check with the respective helicopter company they have booked their reservations with and address any questions or concerns they may have."

For its part, Creative Leisure International, an upscale operator that sells helicopter tours as optional add-ons, hasn't received calls about the accidents, says Dean Johnson, senior vice president of product development.

"I don't think there will be any impact on visitation to Hawaii," Johnson says. "There could be an impact on helicopter flightseeing in Hawaii in the short term, but I think it's a little too early to take a litmus test of the situation."

Jack Perkins, co-owner of Travel Planners, reached at his Birmingham-based travel agency, says he would not have reservations about booking clients on a helitour after asking common sense safety questions.

"The air industry overall, whether it be fixed-wing or helicopter, is very safe," Wienert says. She notes that the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's 2005 visitor-satisfaction survey results show that 11 percent of all domestic visitors took a flightseeing tour while traveling in the islands.

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