Hawaii tourism has received a welcome shot in the arm. Beginning today, July 17, China Airlines, the biggest airline carrier of Republic of China on Taiwan, reinstates its two weekly direct flights from Taipei to Honolulu, which the carrier had cancelled in May 2001. This is great news for Hawaii tourism as each flight will bring an additional 258 tourists to this beautiful state. House Speaker Calvin Say, Director Ted Liu of Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism and celebrities in the State are scheduled to attend a welcome ceremony at the airport to greet the first reinstated flight.

This direct flight program is a reinforcement of the already close relationships between Taiwan and Hawaii. In fact, Hawaii and Taiwan share a very long and profound history. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, received his secondary education at Punahou and Iolani. Then, in 1894, Dr. Sun founded the Hsing Chung Hui in Hawaii. That group was one of the most important societies involved in rallying the efforts of overseas Chinese to overthrow the last dynasty in Chinese history, which resulted in the birth of the Republic of China (ROC) in 1912 as the first constitutional democracy in Asia.

This historical nexus manifests itself in several other spheres. For example, Honolulu and the city of Kaohsiung established a sister-city relationship in 1963. Soon thereafter, the counties of Hawaii and Maui established similar relationships with Hualien and Pingtung counties, respectively. In 1993, Taiwan and Hawaii established a sister-state relationship.

In terms of trade, the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism opened an office in Taipei in 1994 to increase the trade volume between both sides. In 2002, Taiwan was the 7th largest trading partner and export market of Hawaii with a total of $17 million of goods. One of the biggest orchid farms in Hawaii is owned by a Taiwanese entrepreneur. In turn, Hawaii exports its famous Kona Coffee, Macadamia Nuts and chocolate to Taiwan, which are highly appreciated by the people on Taiwan.

Concerning tourism, the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau participates every year in the Taipei International Travel Fair which help attract more and more tourists from Taiwan to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

The successful reinstatement of the China Airlines’ direct flights is the fruit of careful planning and the concerted efforts of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu, State officials and China Airlines. Through series of consultations, meetings and evaluation, we finally succeeded in reinstating the direct flights. “A good beginning is half of the work,” and it is our sincere hope that the people of the beautiful State of Hawaii will give their staunch support to this direct flight program to open up a new page for Hawaii and Taiwan.

”’Timothy Lin is Special Assistant to Consul General Raymond L.S. Wang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu.”’

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