Pacific Business News reports that a new economic report presents a picture of Hawaii’s tourism industry being in “crisis mode” and under-appreciated. The report, “Assessing Tourism’s Contribution to the Hawaii Economy,” makes the rather obvious observations that tourism touches jobs, tax revenues and other areas of Hawaii’s economy, and that the downturn in the visitor industry is impacting the rest of the local economy.
The report comes from First Hawaiian Bank, the entity that commissioned economist Leroy Laney to produce the report. It claims that tourism touched an estimated 74 percent of jobs in Hawaii. State taxes attributed directly to the visitor industry in 2007 accounted for 25 percent, or $1.2 billion, of general fund revenues. Based on Council on Revenue estimates, the downturn in tourism caused a 2.5 percent decline in the general fund in 2008.
“Residents often identify the tourism industry with the higher cost of living in Hawaii, and also with traffic congestion,” said Laney. “There is little appreciation that tourism enhances the quality of life of our citizens and the economic development of other industries. Marketing efforts that are internally as well as externally focused can help alleviate this problem.”
The report forecasts ,over the next three years, the visitor industry may return to positive growth, but the growth will be slow. Laney estimated a 1 percent and 3 percent growth in visitor arrivals for 2010 and 2011.