Hawaii Mourns Travel Advocate, Sen. Daniel Inouye

Daniel Inouye, the senior senator from Hawaii, died Monday of respiratory complications, his office reported this week. Inouye, 88, was a World War II veteran and a Medal of Honor recipient, not to mention a staunch tourism advocate who is credited with helping build Hawaii's robust visitor industry.

"The story of Dan Inouye is the story of modern Hawaii," reads a statement on the senator's website. "During his eight decades of public service, Dan Inouye helped build and shape Hawaii."

During his 50-year tenure in the U.S. Senate, Inouye was a co-sponsor of the Travel Promotion Act, which established Brand USA, and was instrumental in initiatives to modernize U.S. airports and expand the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

"Sen. Inouye was a one-of-a-kind man that served Hawaii well," the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) said in a statement. "He was a leader that comes once-in-a-lifetime and he will be truly missed. He was a true advocate for Hawaii, and a strong supporter of Hawaii's largest economic industry, tourism."

According to HTA, Inouye's guidance and influence helped bring the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting (APEC) to Hawaii in 2011.

"Even up until last week, Sen. Inouye was working toward efforts to secure Kona as a second international port of entry for the state," HTA continued. "For all that he accomplished in his tenure for Hawaii, he remained a humble man that did not take credit for all of his efforts. On behalf of the HTA board and staff, we bid a warm mahalo and aloha to Sen. Inouye for all that he has done for Hawaii."

Inouye began his public service in 1941, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as Hawaii's first congressman following statehood in 1959 and successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1962. He is survived by his wife, Irene; son, Daniel Ken Jr.; a stepdaughter; and a granddaughter. His first wife, Margaret, died in 2006.

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