Hawaii tourism hit a rough patch last spring when Aloha Airlines ceased flying and various carriers dealt with shuffling routes and fuel surcharges. This had its effect on visitor arrivals to the islands. The latest tourism arrival numbers for Hawaii showed a drop of 14.2 percent in June from the previous year; the June decline in arrivals by air was the largest since January 2002.
Today, the Honolulu Advertiser is reporting that the recent vacation that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama took in Hawaii with his family is good news for the islands' tourism outlook. "The press coverage around the world has just been massive," said John Monahan, president of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. "There's really no way we could have scripted it better: golf, bodysurfing, a picnic at Ala Moana Beach with family and friends. It was absolutely perfect for us."
Even though tourism officials are admitting that they won’t be able to match visitor arrivals with Obama’s visit, or track a specific bump in tourism, they characterize the presidential hopeful’s trip as publicity you can’t buy.