Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Tourist industry in decline?

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.

14 comments:

mirmilant said...

Tom

Awesome sunset pictures. I don't remember seeing such reds and oranges before?!

Cheers
Ant

Tom said...

I think you get these really red colours when there's plenty of cirrocumulus in the sky. It might be an altitude thing, I don't know, but I don't think you see such vivid colous with regular cirrus. Tonight was the perfect sunset night!

Leon Basin said...

Yea, the tourist industry is on the decline.. However, I think that means, cheaper flights for the rest of us...

damontucker said...

Common mistake made "Hawai`ian" What word is that?

The correct spelling is just plain and simple "Hawaiian"

Trust me... I'm the very last person in the world to be hypocritical about spelling or grammar as I am the worst at it!

Tom said...

Thanks, Damon, fixed it. Actually, given the time and the altitude I'm wondering why I'm not writing complete gibberish. Can't be doing too badly if people can at least understand what I've written.

Protege said...

Maybe this means that the tourist that keep visiting are interested more in seeing the beauty of the Hawaiian nature and in experiencing the natural phenomena instead of just lying around on the beach.;)
Love the sunset pictures.

Tom said...

I took a friend of a friend on a tour of the summit including a couple of the observatories. They were staying at an expensive resort with great beaches, snorkelling and had seen everything on the island, including the volcano. They said the best part of their vacation by far was the visit to the summit!

Diane said...

I was struck how it looks like you're gazing over a big field of snow in these photos. It hasn't snowed in Hawaii, has it? ;)

Tom said...

We may actually get a little snow this weekend! I'm up again early next week so if there's any around I'll be sure to take a picture!

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'm getting envious of you and your mountain top and unobstructed view of such awesome colors and cloud effects! Maybe I should be a tourist and visit Hawai'i?

John Powell said...

Ali'i Drive in Kailua isn't quite a ghost town yet, but I was down there for an office Christmas luncheon on Monday and it was very very quiet. Pleasant for us to have the restaurant more or less to ourselves, but I fear that a lot of local small businesses are going to have a rough year.

Beep said...

I was just reading about the dire economic mess in my state (CA) which has already affected my health care access for 2009, and I needed to take my mind off of the problem...these gorgeous pictures really helped :) I hope Hawai'i is able to weather the effects of the demand destruction going on right now. I am sure one reason it is so vulnerable is that it is so hard to get there. Can't drive over for a weekend (which is probably a blessing or you would be inundated with us Californians!) and plane fares to there still seem higher than to other places the same distance away from here, at least.

Tom said...

Keera - sorry, I only read your comment after I wrote my latest blog entry - sorry for more cloud effects!

John - I think "a rough year" is putting things mildly. Hopefully there will still be enough business from locals to keep some of the more tourist-dependent places from closing.

Beep - airfares will always be expensive here as it's not a big business destination and fares aren't subsidised by business class travellers. One bright note is that we seem to be getting more visitors from Canada!

Hilary said...

Wow.. such incredible colour. I think if I saw sunsets like that on a regular basis, I'd never look down. Just beautiful!