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Hawaiian sun campaign delayed by rain

/ Source: The Associated Press

State and county tourism officials hoped to launch a nationwide public relations campaign this week promoting Hawaii’s sunny skies, but their plans were postponed for a week because of the rainy weather.

State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said Tuesday that up to $100,000 will be spent on “a very aggressive” effort to reassure visitors that “Hawaii is the most beautiful place in the world and is open for business.”

“We’re getting word out that our regular tradewinds and our balmy weather are back,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of the rains for awhile.”

It has been raining continuously in Hawaii since Feb. 19. Tourism officials are trying to counter newspapers’ headlines and TV images of the deadly dam break on Kauai that flooded roads and homes, a shark bite in murky waters off Oahu and a major sewage spill in Waikiki.

“I’ve been here since 1961 and I’ve never seen such bad weather,” said Kay Medhurst, 73, who was walking to her Waikiki condo carrying an umbrella.

Wienert said the impact of the bad weather on tourism has been minimal so far, but she expressed concerns about any long-term affects.

The state has already fielded many calls from worried travelers and dozens of parties have canceled their trips.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Hawaii’s economy. In 2005, the islands welcomed 7.5 million visitors who spent a record $11.5 billion.

Wienert said it won’t take long before Hawaii bounces back.

“All it takes is a few weeks of sunny weather, and it’s back to normal,” she said.