Report: Thanks to Tourism, Hawaii's Economy Years From Recovery

Hawaii's economy is several years away from a full recovery, according to a new report by economists from the University of Hawaii, which cited as a major reason the state's ailing tourism industry.

"Recovery means a return to growth," the report said, "not a return to business as usual."

According to the Associated Press, which reported on the forecast last week, University of Hawaii economists predict that historically low hotel occupancy levels—expected to be just 66.1 percent this year—will remain below 70 percent until the end of 2011, due mostly to caution on the part of travelers from the U.S. mainland.

Because they're tied so closely to tourism and hotel occupancy, other key economic measures, such as high unemployment—which the economists expect to reach over 8 percent next year—and low tax revenue, also are expected to persist.

"Unemployment will remain relatively high for a number of years," the report said, "income gains will be hard to come by and economic conditions will remain difficult for many families."

One high point, according to the University of Hawaii report: Tourism from Japan is already on the mend.

"Japan returned to growth in the second quarter," the report concluded, "and it appears likely that the U.S. will post positive growth for the current quarter."