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Hawaii visitor arrivals up 12% in February, before Japan crisis

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Chinese tourists walk past a China CYTS Tour Holding Company banner greeting them after exiting the international arrivals area of Honolulu International Airport, part of the 263 passengers aboard the first charter flight to travel direct from China to Hawaii.
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Hawaii’s tourism recovery continued in February, a month where the state saw gains in arrivals and spending from all visitor source markets.

Total arrivals increased by 11.7 percent to 593,018 visitors last month. At the same time, total spending from these visitors rose 18.7 percent to $1.01 billion, which surpassed the amount spent during the same month in 2007, Hawaii’s peak year for visitor spending.

Arrivals from Hawaii’s top U.S. West market increased by 11.8 percent. U.S. East arrivals posted a 10.9 percent gain, while arrivals from Japan rose 8.2 percent and they jumped 19.7 percent from Canada. Visitors that came by cruise ship also rose 6.2 percent. All markets posted double-digit spending increases.

However, these positive trends already have been impacted by Japan’s tsunami, earthquake and radiation scare, said Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority president and chief executive officer.

Japan is Hawaii’s No. 3 visitor source market and about 17 percent of visitor arrivals to Hawaii come from there. The HTA plans to spend more than $3 million on a recovery plan that will address a 45 percent projected shortfall in Japan arrivals in April and projected shortfalls in Japan arrivals of 35 percent in May and 30 percent in June, McCartney said.

"We fully believe that Hawaii will be able to weather this latest tragedy," he said.  "The economic growth that we have seen over the last year is an indicator of how resilient we are as a community and destination."

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