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Visitor industry sets records

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 2:52 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2014

Hawaii's visitor industry set year-end records for visitor spending and arrivals in 2013: however, a leveling off of growth in the second half of the year caused tourism to fall short of its targeted expectations.

Nearly 8.24 million travelers came to Hawaii in 2013 surpassing the 2012 record of nearly 8.03 million visitors by 2.6 percent, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Likewise, annual 2013 non-inflation adjusted visitor expenditures rose to $14.5 billion, a 2 percent gain over 2012.These records were set despite a 6.3 percent year-over-year decline in December visitor expenditures to $1.3 billion and a 1.9 percent year-over-year decrease in December visitor arrivals, which numbered 722, 423.

The HTA said that gains in total visitor expenditures and arrivals during the first half of 2013 offset weaker performances in the second half of the year. Much of the growth in arrivals was from the international markets. The U.S. West market slowed down in the second half of 2013 and the U.S. East market declined in the last quarter of the year.

"Fluctuations in currency exchange rates, taxes and fuel surcharges have slowed bookings and hampered growth, causing a leveling off throughout the second half of 2013, said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney.

McCartney said the HTA anticipates the slow-down will continue in the first half of 2014, especially during the typically slower travel period in April and May. 

"We will continue to work with our marketing contractors to review and adjust our plans to stimulate the markets in light of current economic and global trends," he said. 

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