Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Strong Tourism Forecast Is Good News for Rail

Craig Kojima photo, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
First, remember that despite the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, GET revenues to fund the local share of Honolulu rail transit construction costs are running above 99 percent of the original forecast.

Then consider the latest visitor industry forecast, which was the subject of a Hawaii Tourism Authority Tourism Conference yesterday. A return to 7 million-plus visitors per year was forecast by Carl Bonham, director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.

“We’re beyond where anybody expected us to be at this time, and there is still reason for optimism going on into the fall,” Bonham said.

This pretty much puts into perspective what rail’s proponents have said every time a big-headline story was splashed by one of the Honolulu daily newspapers (the one that’s no longer publishing) over the past year comparing revenues with the forecast. Everything moves in cycles, they said and continue to say, so the downturn in the 2008-09 years inevitably will be followed by an upswing in the indicators.

As tourism revenues increase, so do GET revenues for the rail project – good reason for optimism, indeed.

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