Despite the economic downturn that is battering airlines such as ATA and Aloha, travel to the Aloha state continues to be robust. A story in the Wall Street Journal attributed the strong tourism dollars to marketing directed at Euro-rich Europeans and new flights from Australia and Manila.

The number of visitors to the islands rose to about 1.9 million in the first quarter of 2008, up 2.8 percent from the year earlier. The increase is coming from international travelers and this is making up for the drop in American travelers coming to the islands.

One smart thing that Hawaiian tourism officials lobbied for was an agreement to eliminate the need for a visa for South Koreans traveling to the US. So now Koreans can come without having to fork over that extra fee.

The islands have weathered storms in the past, such as in the early 1990s when Japanese visitors plummeted. At that time Japan accounted for a third of Hawaii’s visitors. Now the state has diversified its marketing, pushing toward Germany, the UK and Korea so that now they are in much better shape than the rest of the US.