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Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Tuesday, June 5, 2001



Cheap Tickets to open Tampa call center in July

Cheap Tickets Inc. will open a 100-person call center in Tampa, Fla., next month.

The facility will be the discount travel retailer's fifth. It already has call centers in Hon- olulu, Los Angeles, Lakeport, Calif., and Colorado Springs, Co. that employ a total of 800. The new call center may be expanded to 400 employees if demand warrants, according to the company.

Cheap Tickets' 24-hour call centers handle an average of more than 22,000 calls per day. Its Web site, www.cheaptickets.com, averages more than 91,000 unique visits per day, said the Honolulu-based firm.

Voyager Submarines sinks

Voyager Submarines, which started operations at Waikiki in 1996 and now operates two yellow 48-passenger sightseeing subs off Waikiki, will go out of business at the end of this month. In a notice to travel industry clients, the company said it is forced to close "due to a steady decline in visitor numbers and continued difficulties in major world markets."

Officials of Voyager, which is owned by a partnership that includes Robert Iwamoto Jr. of the large Robert's Hawaii tourist business, were not available for additional comment. The notice said the submarine tours will maintain the highest level of service through the final weeks.

The Voyager departure will leave one tourist-submarine operator in Hawaii waters, Atlantis Adventures, which has three subs at Waikiki and one each at Kona on the Big Island and Lahaina, Maui.

Hawaii retail check sales rise 5.2%, lead nation

Hawaii retail sales paid for by check rose 5.2 percent in May from the same month a year ago, according to figures released today by Telecheck Services Inc., a check acceptance company.

Hawaii's increase outpaced every other state, as well as the national average, which rose 2.8 percent in May over the previous year. The western portion of the country, including Hawaii, posted a 2.6 percent increase, Telecheck said.

Minnesota posted the largest increase after Hawaii, at 4.5 percent, followed by Louisiana at 4.4 percent, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, both with 4.1 percent increases.

Checks account for about one-third of retail purchases.





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