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By Brendan Kiley Seattle Times SEATTLE >> Ask a few people in the travel business how their industry is doing, and you’ll start to hear some common refrains: Travel took a beating in 2020. The market is bursting with pent-up demand. Great deals are everywhere, but the terrain keeps shifting, so consider the help of travel agents. Beaches and parks are in — so, apparently, is littering. Between vaccine distribution hiccups and the new coronavirus variants, nobody knows when the floodgates will truly open. That last point draws a little more debate. Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association (a nonprofit trade group) says his go-to analysts at Tourism Economics predict gradual leisure-travel growth until June, then a...

By Star-Advertiser Staff The Maui Ocean Center, one of Hawaii’s top visitor attractions, reopened Friday after a 10-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Phase one of a three-phase plan permits only ocean center members and annual pass holders access. Members will receive free admission but must make reservations online. Phase two will allow all Maui County residents to visit the aquarium for free on weekends, and phase three will see a general admission reopening. According to the State of Hawaii Data Book, the Maui Ocean Center saw attendance of 442,500 in 2019. The aquarium is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for guests with online reservations only. Guests and employees must undergo temperature checks at the gate, wear masks at all...

By David Shapiro, Special to the Star-Advertiser Hawaii public works projects too often sputter because elected officials become more interested in promoting development around them than the projects themselves. Honolulu rail was intended to relieve gridlocked traffic but fell apart when it became more about building houses on West Oahu farmlands and ritzy high-rises in town as lawmakers were seduced by the prospect of more tax revenues to spend, bountiful campaign donations and happy construction unions. The decades-long Kakaako redevelopment was supposed to yield sorely needed workforce housing but produced mostly luxury condos for wealthy offshore speculators as officials catered to developers’ wishes instead of public needs. For more information check out the Star-Advertiser...

By Christie Wilson The Polynesian Cultural Center, a cornerstone of Laie and an economic magnet for the North Shore community, is set to reopen Monday following a 10-month-long closure — one of that last major attractions on Oahu to welcome back visitors after Hawaii tourism was shut down in March due to the corona­virus pandemic. A full house is expected for the first day, center officials said, although under social-distancing limits that translates to only 260 guests compared to the 2,000-plus who visited on a daily basis before the outbreak. For more information check out the Star-Advertiser ...

By Associated Press   DETROIT >> The leader of Delta Air Lines is telling workers that he expects some recovery from the coronavirus travel downturn by the spring. CEO Ed Bastian writes in a New Year’s Day memo to employees that he expects 2021 to start with travel deeply depressed like it was last year. But as vaccines become more widely available, he expects a turning point especially in business travel. He says Delta should generate positive cash flow by the spring. Bastian wrote that there is uncertainty over what travel demand will look like once significant numbers of people are vaccinated, and that Delta must be nimble and ready for change. “Just as we’ve never experienced a global pandemic in our history, we’ve also...

By Star-Advertiser Staff The eruption that started Dec. 20 at the Kilauea summit continued to flow into 2021. Lava activity remained confined to Halemaumau Crater, with no seismic or deformation data to indicate that magma is moving into either of Kilauea’s rift zones, according to the latest Hawaiian Volcano Observatory observations. Vents on the northwest side of the crater were spattering Saturday while erupting lava flowed through crusted-over channels into the lava lake, now about 82 acres in size and about 620 feet deep with a narrow black ledge around it, HVO said. For more information check out the Star-Advertiser...

STORY BY: ANNE LEE | PHOTOS BY: L. TABUDLO Ring in the New Year with a delicious meal from Chef Chai. Owner Chai Chaowasaree has been serving up island fusion-inspired dishes at the Kapiolani Boulevard location since 2013, and wants to welcome everyone to indulge in a festive feast — dine-in or takeout — to celebrate the start of 2021. AL: What did you prepare for us today? CC: We are preparing you one of our signature dishes called Crispy Whole Fish with Chili Ginger Sauce. The fish is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The sauce is Thai and Chinese-style with ginger, jalapeño pepper and scallions. So good! For more information check out our  Dining Out/In feature in the Star-Advertiser  ...

STORY BY: NICOLE MONTON | PHOTOS BY: LAWRENCE TABUDLO   The start of a new year is an exciting time, and what better way to ring it in than with a hearty meal from Zippy’s alongside the people you love. In true Zippy’s fashion, whether dining in or taking out, the options are plenty. As we welcome 2021, staff members at Zippy’s locations across the state are ready to serve you with smiles on their faces and heaping plates of local-style favorites. “We would like to thank the community for all their support, and like everyone else, we are looking forward to a better 2021,” says marketing manager Jeanine Mamiya-Kalahiki. To kick things off for the month of January, expect Mini Combo Meals —...

By Associated Press and Star-Advertiser Staff Dec. 21, 2020 People hoping to get a view of the new Kilauea eruption at Halemaumau Crater are flocking to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park today, but officials are urging visitors to be cautious about both the volcano and the coronavirus pandemic. Park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane told the Associated Press this morning that the volcanic activity is a risk to people in the park. “It’s pretty spectacular this morning,” she said, “but there are high amounts of hazardous sulfur dioxide gas and particulates and those are billowing out of the crater right now and those present a danger to everyone, especially people with heart or respiratory problems, infants, young children and pregnant women.” For more information check out the Star-Advertiser...

By Dave Reardon It was worth the trip. Actually, it was worth two trips. After the first time, I had to make a second North Shore trek from my home in Kapahulu to get more of Da Bald Guy’s next-level plate lunchery; it’s that good. And, while I was out there, I thought, why not check out how things are going at a couple of landmarks I’d never visited before? Word is the wait times at Romy’s and Matsumoto’s are a lot shorter than before COVID-19 His menu is not extensive, but even with combos in play it takes more than one visit to sample the best of Da Bald Guy, whose real name is James Martin, and is actually Da Bald Guy II....