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Hawaii tourism authority reveals record numbers

By Jenna Cyprus     Mar 4, 2015 in Travel
When you think about Hawaii your mind shifts to warm beaches, beautiful weather, ancient volcanoes, and unique culture. It’s the combination of these things that keeps tourists returning each year.
This January, the Hawaii Tourism Authority announced record numbers for the third consecutive year. These trends are exciting for the state and solidify it as one of the top U.S. destinations in 2015.
New State Tourism Record
Hawaii has been one of the most sought-after destinations due to its beauty and geographical diversity for decades. However, never before have tourism numbers been higher than they are now. In a recent release, the Hawaii Tourism Authority announced that a total of 8,282,680 tourists visited the Hawaiian Islands, which marks a 1.3 percent growth rate when compared to the previous record of 8,174,461 visitors in 2013. Those nearly 8.3 million visitors spent an estimated $14.75 billion while on the islands, which makes tourism the number one industry in the state (surpassing agriculture).
According to Ronald Williams, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the uptick in visitors — which surpassed the original goal of 8,250,937 visitors by a mere 30,000 tourists — has had an impact on the entire state economy. In a written statement he said, “By increasing visitor arrivals and spending to the majority of the Hawaiian Islands we have been able to grow the benefits of tourism statewide, reinforcing our efforts to diversify Hawaii’s tourism economy by distributing visitors across the state.”
Driving Forces Behind Increased Tourism Numbers
While everyone involved in the Hawaiian economy is thrilled about the growth, many are wondering why and how the numbers have continued to grow over the past three years. According to those closely involved with the situation, it’s a result of three major driving forces: better airline accessibility, a more stable economy, and enhanced marketing efforts.
Williams claims better airline accessibility combined with low oil prices led to major increases in the second half of the year specifically. Furthermore, he expects numbers to remain steady — or possibly even increase — over the first six months of 2015. “As oil prices remain low, airlines continue to improve their operational costs, which we anticipate will lead to continued growth in air seats and arrivals from North America through the first half of this year,” said Williams.
Secondly, the stabilizing American economy played a major role in the increase in tourism as people are finally willing and able to spend on travel again. This is exemplified by the fact that the average daily spend per tourist was right around $191 this past December.
And finally, according to, a popular vacation rental website, the enhanced efforts of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority played a major role in driving tourists to the islands.
While overall tourism numbers increased this year, it’s worth noting that the Japan market — the state’s largest — actually diminished this year. This is likely due to the unstable Japan economy and weakening of the yen. Otherwise, arrivals from Oceania were up 5.9 percent, from European countries saw an increase of 4.6 percent, and from other Asian countries were up an impressive 8.5 percent.
Reasons People Visit Hawaii
For people who have never visited Hawaii, it’s difficult to grasp the full power of the state’s beauty. While it’s the 50th state, it’s potentially the most beautiful. Tourists grace the islands each year to enjoy surfing, hiking around volcanoes — some still active — scuba diving in the clear water, and relaxing on the beach.
At the end of his written statement, Williams took time to thank all industry partners and stakeholders for their hard work and encouraged everyone to continue collaborating to maintain momentum in 2015 and beyond.
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