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Saturday, December 16, 2000

Bahamas gives governor
ideas on aquariums
and cruise ships

He envisions an aquarium
that tells Hawaii's story

By Pat Omandam

Fresh from his sojourn to the Bahamas this week, Gov. Ben Cayetano said what he learned there about world-class aquariums can be applied to the one he wants to build in Kakaako.

"Over the last couple of years, I've gone to California, Louisiana, to Florida to see different kinds of aquariums, even to Chicago," Cayetano said yesterday. "When I heard about this one, I thought I'd go and see it. And I think it's quite impressive."

Cayetano said the world's biggest salt-water aquarium, part of the Atlantis Resort and Casino at Paradise Island in the Bahamas, holds more than 8 million gallons of water.

He said the aquarium's theme is based on the mythical lost city of Atlantis and draws about a million visitors a year. A themed world-class aquarium at Kakaako could be just as popular, he said.

"It gives me a good feeling that we can do our aquarium in a way that tells the story of Hawaii, and with the Hokulea and all of the Hawaiian gods and legends that are part of the Hawaiian culture.

"We can do what they did in the Bahamas with the Lost City of Atlantis, except ours will be actual history, not some myth," Cayetano said.

The governor believes an aquarium would be a big draw for residents and visitors. He estimates it would cost $70 million to build and that it will attract more than a million people -- making it one of the biggest and newest attractions to Hawaii.

In the Bahamas, Cayetano also got a first-hand glimpse at the commonwealth's cruise-ship industry, which is fairly large for a country that has fewer than 300,000 people on 700 islands.

While he was there, the islands were getting about eight cruise ships a week into Nassau, he said.

Cayetano said Hawaii could be just as popular a cruise-ship destination. He would build cruise-ship facilities on the Neighbor Islands first, starting with Kauai and Hilo on the Big Island.

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