Tourism in Hawaii

1881: The first two commercial bath houses appeared on Waikiki beach. Through the early 1900s, bath houses attracted tourists to Waikiki.

1888: The first full-service hotel in Hawaii, The Park Beach started offering overnight stays.

1892: Hawaii Bureau of Information was formed to promote tourism, but ran only briefly.

1901: The Moana Hotel first opened. Currently the Moana Surfrider Hotel, the “First Lady of Waikiki” and the oldest hotel in Hawaii still provides hospitality to visitors.

1901: Tourists started coming by steamships. Arriving at the Aloha Tower pier, they smelled the complimentary plumeria lei around their necks, watched Hawaiian hula dancers, and heard a Hawaiian string medley ensemble play the ukulele and steel-guitars.

1902: Because California, especially Los Angeles, was expecting tourists during the winter, Hawaii’s tourism industry convinced them to travel further west to Hawaii. Honolulu businessmen paid Walter C. Weeden $600, so the marketer gave lecture tours and a “magic lantern” show for six months. In each show, Weeden showed tinted scenes of Hawaii to packed houses on the West Coast. He said, “At every point I go, I find people ready and eager to learn more of Hawaii.”

1920s: Completed by 1928, the Ala Wai Canal drained Waikiki, formerly a marshland where Hawaiian and Chinese farmers raised taro, rice, and livestock. Roads and buildings started to cover the now-dried land.

1935: The Hawaii Tourist Bureau launched Hawaii Calls, a radio program. For almost forty years, its Hawaiian music allured listeners to Hawaii from the Mainland United States, Canada, and Australia.

1941: Hawaii received the most visitors in a year yet: 31,846.

December 7, 1941: The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, pulling the United States into World War II. Hawaii went into martial law, and tourism in Hawaii abruptly ended.

September 1945: World War II ended, and tourism in Hawaii resumed. The Hawaii Visitors Bureau replaced the Hawaii Tourist Bureau.

1948: The ocean liner Lurline resumed service between the West Coast and Hawaii, and in Hawaii, regularly scheduled air service began.

1959: Hawaii achieved statehood, the first jet service to Hawaii arrived, and 250,000 tourists visited Hawaii (seven to eight times more tourists in Hawaii than during 1941). Meanwhile, Waikiki started to develop as a tourist hub.

– Alice Kim

Articles from Chronicling America

Hawaiian gazette, August 3, 1881, Image 2

“The Need for a New Hotel”
Evening bulletin, September 18, 1896, Image 1

“Tours Are Arranged”
Hawaiian gazette, January 26, 1904, Page 6

“Moana Hotel Must Pass Under the Hammer”
Hawaiian gazette, January 10, 1905, Image 1

“Moana Magnificent in Tasteful Luxury”
Evening bulletin, March 12, 1901, Page 3

“Moana Hotel”
Honolulu republican, June 16, 1901, Part I, Page 5

“Big Railroad Lines to Send Tourists to Islands”
Hawaiian gazette, May 1, 1903, Page 3

“China Passengers Much Interested: Visitors, Especially Mr. Robinson, Pleased with City”
Evening bulletin, February 20, 1906, 3:30 O’CLOCK EDITION, Page 3

“What Hawaii Can Do for Tourists by Accepting Australasian Plan”
Evening bulletin, October 10, 1908, 3:30 EDITION, Page 7

“Haleakala Is Mecca of Maui”
Maui news, August 31, 1912, Image 1

“Uncle Sam Will Promote Tourist Travel to Pacific West, Hawaii”
Honolulu star-bulletin, October 8, 1917, Page 12

“The Tourist Is Human”
Maui news, May 23, 1919, Page 4