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State roundup for February 28

Visitor spending decreases again

HONOLULU (AP) — Tourism officials say travelers to Hawaii spent nearly 5 percent less last month than the same period a year earlier. The decline marks the fifth straight month of lower visitor spending.

Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Mike McCartney said in a statement Thursday the tourism economy is starting to plateau after two years of record-breaking growth.

He says fluctuating exchange rates, growing competition and the increasing cost of a Hawaiian vacation all contributed to the spending drop. He says the trend should continue for the first half of the year.

The agency says fewer visitors came to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland. More travelers from Japan arrived, but the average Japanese visitor spent about 7 percent less during their stay.

The total number of visitors to Hawaii was almost unchanged.

New hotel in Wailea gets OK

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — The Maui Planning Commission has approved the construction of a new hotel in Wailea.

The 200-room Piilani Suites is designed to be more affordable than the area’s luxury hotels.

Marriott International will manage the hotel on more than six acres owned by A&B Wailea LLC.

The commission approved permits for the four-story project Tuesday on the condition construction begin by Feb. 28, 2017, and be completed within five years.

Construction is expected to generate 260 jobs for 18 months. The hotel itself is expected to create 52 jobs.

Planned guest amenities include free breakfast and Internet access, a laundry room, walking and bike paths, a pool, fitness center and 138 parking stalls.

Kauai County hires defense

HONOLULU (AP) — Kauai County says it’s hired a Honolulu law firm to defend it against a lawsuit challenging a new law regulating the use of pesticides and the growing of genetically modified crops by large agricultural businesses.

The county said in a statement Thursday McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP will represent the county against the lawsuit filed by four companies.

Several law firms had initially offered free legal help and the county had initially planned to rely on donated representation.

But the county said it received only one response to its formal request for pro bono services. The county rejected that attorney’s submission, partly because of a lack of relevant qualifications.

The Kauai County Council earlier this month authorized spending $75,000 to hire attorneys for the case.


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