Korean conflict could have big impact on state's economy

Hawaii's No. 1 industry may take a hit

Published  8:32 PM HST Mar 28, 2013
Tourists
HONOLULU -

Escalating tensions in the Korean Peninsula could have a big impact on Hawaii's economy.

"If there were war in Korea, I would not come to Hawaii," said Su Hwan No, a South Korean on vacation in Hawaii.  "Every Korean guy has their burden to protect our family and our country. That's our thinking."

A loss of the South Korean market would be devastating to the islands because according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, if something affects tourism, it impacts everyone statewide.

The latest visitor numbers show the state's No. 1 industry is growing.

To keep this momentum, experts are looking to diversify into Asia, including Korea.

"We have four flights a day and it's a very important market to Hawaii and we're very, very pleased with the market that we have and the relationship that we have with Korea," said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive officer for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.  "Our hope is that always peace will prevail and people will find out how to work with each other. So, we're not overly concerned about the situation at all and we think that business will continue as usual."

For Koreans living in Hawaii, they're also concerned about the safety of loved ones overseas.

"I'm worried and I think people living in the states who have family in Korea, they are worried cause I think this time is a little different than usual," Yeon Moreno said.

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