Hawaii’s visitor industry set five new tourism records in 2017, which brought nearly 9.4 million visitors and nearly $16.8 billion in visitor spending to the state.
A 5 percent gain in arrivals and a 6 percent plus gain in spending helped Hawaii tourism achieve it’s sixth consecutive record-setting year. While the total spending results were higher than last year, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) does not adjust its spending to account for inflation or include supplemental business expenditures.
HTA, the state’s marketing arm, said the industry in 2017 also generated a record amount of taxes, job support and trans-Pacific air seats.
The gains were spread across Hawaii’s four largest islands with all posting growth in visitor spending, visitor days and arrivals in 2017 over 2016. More travelers came, and spent more money, from the U.S. West and the U.S. East, Hawaii’s top two markets, and from Japan, Hawaii’s best international market. The Canadian market also bounced back with gains in spending and arrivals.While spending from all other international visitors declined, visitor arrivals increased slightly.
As many as 448,709 more visitors came to Hawaii in 2017 than did in 2016, which was also a blockbuster year. An average of 230,113 visitors were in the Hawaiian islands on any given day in 2017, an increase of 5 percent over 2016’s average daily visitor census.
Visitor spending increased just over 6 percent to nearly $2 billion in visitor-generated tax collections. HTA said as many as 204,000 jobs statewide were supported by the state’s tourism industry in 2017, an increase of just over 5 percent above 2016. Trans-Pacific air seats to the Hawaiian islands rose nearly 2 percent in 2017 to just over 12.2 million.
The full-year results got an assist from December’s visitor industry performance. In December, arrivals increased just over 6 percent to 880,441 and visitor spending rose nearly 3 percent to just over $1.6 billion.
George D. Szigeti, Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO said the record totals “convey the industry’s importance to residents and the state’s economy,” but should not be taken for granted.
Szigeti said Hawaii’s tourism industry continues to improve its facilities and HTA is hopeful that tourism momentum will be sustained in 2018.
“Our message to global travelers continues to be that Hawaii is the safest, cleanest and most welcoming destination in the world,” he said.