As Hawaii faces a ‘tipping point’ in tourism, Southwest Airlines could bring relief

 

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HONOLULU — As Dallas-based Southwest Airlines ramps up its service to Hawaii with 28 daily flights by the end of May, the state is facing a problem in managing the growing number of visitors to the island who spend less money here every year.

“We’re not at a crisis point yet. We’re at a tipping point. We have so many visitors, we need to get serious about creating management programs,” said Frank Haas, a travel industry veteran who is the former marketing director at the Hawaii Tourism Authority and formerly served as an Assistant Dean at the University of Hawaii.

Haas joined James Mak, a professor emeritus at the University of Hawaii and Paul Brewbaker, a longtime economist who worked for the Bank of Hawaii, to write a nine-page white paper last month which details how Hawaii has failed to manage tourism.

“Yeah, I would even say we struck a nerve so to speak. We wrote about what a lot of (local) people are already thinking,” Brewbaker said.

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