The number of tourists visiting the Hawaiian islands had dropped dramatically over the last few months due to the dire economy and higher than usual airfares. I think only Kaui`i has seen tourist numbers rise or at least stay the same. This is, of course, bad news for the state as tourism is the largest industry.
On the other hand, the number of tourists that visit the summit of Mauna Kea seems to keep growing. I have no numbers to quote, only a subjective observation of the number of people and tour vans here each evening. This is a tuesday night and numbers are what I'm sure we used to get at the weekends. Now the summit is literally swarming with tourists on a Saturday and Sunday. I wonder how shares in those tour companies are doing?
One of the best sunset viewing spots is in the picture below, between the UKIRT and the new training telescope for students at the University of Hawai`i. The visitors and vans are silhouetted against the clouds thousands of feet below us as the sun sinks behind a distant cumulus cloud.
A few minutes later, the clouds turn from orange to a vivid red and it's time to see if there's a hole big enough in the cloud layer for us to do a little work through.