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Hawaii visitor projections revised upward for this year

The Hawaii Tourism Authority even sees gains from Japan despite the disasters

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 4:16 p.m. HST, Jun 30, 2011

The Hawaii Tourism Authority upwardly revised its year-end tourism arrivals and spending goals today for all major source markets including Japan. 

The HTA’s new target for 2011 visitor arrivals is 7.3 million visitors, which represents a 5.2 percent gain from the prior year. The HTA’s earlier visitor arrivals goal was set at just under 7.2 million visitors.

The new spending goal for 2011 is $12.6 billion, which represents a 10.9 percent gain over the same period in 2010. HTA’s earlier goal anticipated visitor spending would rise 5.7 percent to just more than $12 billion for the year. 

Initially when the HTA met in March following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the board expected to see a reactionary drop, said David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management. Arrivals were expected to fall by 154,097 and spending by $250 million, Uchiyama said. 

 “We immediately launched a recovery plan to stabilize all markets and at a minimum maintain market share,” he said.

While there was fallout, the overall impact was not as great as anticipated, Uchiyama said. The new numbers are based on recovery and momentum seen in the market during the second quarter, he said. 

“HTA’s recovery strategy included targeting secondary cities in North America and developing countries to fill the gap,” Uchiyama said. “It worked.” 

As a result, HTA’s new goals for its core U.S. West market include a 3 percent arrivals increase to just more than 3 million visitors and a 6.8 spending increase to $4.3 billion. 

U.S. East arrivals are now expected to grow 2.8 percent to 1.7 million and spending to increase by 9.9 percent to $3.2 billion. 

Even Japan arrivals, which slumped in the aftermath of the country’s tragedy, are expected to increase by 3.3 percent to nearly 1.3 million visitors and spending to rise by 8.2 percent to $2.1 billion. 

HTA’s goals for Canada include a 12.9 percent increase in arrivals to 448,081 visitors and a 19.7 percent spending gain to $885 million. 

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