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Sept. 11, SARS and Saddam have all contributed to an extremely challenging time for tourism-our economic engine. As this special section documents, the industry is experiencing several seismic shifts.

Contributing writer Alex Salkever delves into the delicate balance stakeholders face. They must welcome back the Japanese visitors, who are starting to return to Hawaii, while focusing more attention on the growing (but lower-spending) North American market. New initiatives, such as Norwegian Cruise Lines' big plans for growth and the boom in timeshares, are reshaping the visitor landscape. Neighbor Islands are drawing more and more visitors.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is the sole sponsor of this special section, which both documents trends and provides a baseline for measurement of our all-important visitor industry. All stories are reported and edited independently of the sponsor.

We think you will find the resulting report to be a valuable tool in moving Hawaii's tourist industry forward in the years to come.

Kelli Abe Trifonovitch
Hawaii Business

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Hawaii Business,December