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Hawaii's Economy Grows for First Half of YearJuly 29, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox
Good news from Hawaii: During the first half of 2010, the state's tourism economy has shown positive growth in total visitor arrivals and spending, with an overall increase in arrivals for the seventh consecutive month and visitor expenditures up 7.8 percent over last year.
"Our focused efforts to increase travel demand to Hawaii in our major market areas are paying off with increases in arrivals from U.S. West, U.S. East, Canada, and Japan," says Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "While Japan arrivals are down from 2008, they continue to head upward following last year’s H1N1 epidemic which severely reduced arrivals and expenditures from this market."
Airlift, McCartney adds, is the tourism industry's lifeline, and remains a top priority for HTA. "Our success with increasing air access has resulted in a spike in total statewide air seats of 6.6 percent, with all the neighbor islands experiencing air seat increases, as well as double-digit visitor spending increases over the same period last year. The new airlift from multiple airlines – Continental, Alaska, Hawaiian, and Delta – is especially encouraging news and a positive sign for the highly dependent tourism economies on the neighbor islands."
On the other hand, he cautions, there is still "much work to do" before Hawaii recovers from the 22 percent decline in visitor spending we experienced over 2008 and 2009. "During this period, we had 17 months of decreased visitor arrivals and 24 months of decreased visitor spending.
"While we are encouraged by the growth and success of our programs so far this year, we are mindful of many factors that could affect tourism in Hawaii including continued worldwide economic uncertainty. Therefore, HTA continues to operate in a crisis posture as outlined in our strategic plan, and we must continue to be aggressive and redouble our marketing efforts to sustain these positive results. This includes a continued focus on Asia as a growth region, increasing meetings and convention business and driving more demand to the neighbor islands."