Local connection: Pouring on the aloha

The Merrie Monarch Festival was great reminder of the power of Hawaiian culture and the spirituality of our shared home. It also showed us how much we have to do to get our economic engine churning again.

The festival did generate work. The Hilo office was the only unemployment to show a net decline in new jobless claims that week. On the other hand, the festival barely moved the needle on 54% Big Island hotel occupancy.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority sees our cultural festivals, celebrating all our cultural roots, as a significant source of repeat visitors, the kind of visitors who appreciate Hawaii as much as we do ourselves. We've got that going for us, and we've got the airlines betting on us, with five percent more airline seats than last year.

Let's pour on the aloha! Let's make sure those who visit us this spring have unforgettably wonderful visits. That'll help us get the kind of economic rebound our families need.