updated 8/9/2011 5:10:45 PM ET 2011-08-09T21:10:45

The first regularly scheduled direct flight between China and Hawaii has arrived in Honolulu.

The inaugural China Eastern Airlines flight from Shanghai arrived at Honolulu International Airport Tuesday. Passengers were greeted with leis, Hawaiian music and hula.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority projects that more than 91,000 visitors from China are to arrive this year. HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney says the new route comes after Hawaii tourism officials worked aggressively to secure direct air service from China. It's expected to provide up to $60 million in annual visitor expenditures and stimulate new jobs in the state.

Among the passengers were 18 members of the Chinese media who are to spend three nights on Oahu and the Big Island generating story ideas about Hawaii as a visitor destination.

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