BY MARSHA WIENERT We are pleased that Hawai’i’s healthy summer travel season continued in July and is expected to continue through August.  In July, we saw gains in visitor arrivals and in visitor spending from all geographic market segments.  Contributing to these increases were two large groups that held conventions in Hawai’i – the Baptist World Congress and the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease – which resulted in an increase of 107.6 percent (7,616) in Meeting, Convention and Incentive (MCI) visitors from the U.S. East and an overall increase in MCI visitors of 57.3 percent (increase of 12,951).

July marked the eighth month of positive growth in visitor arrivals, which is welcome news to everyone.  Growth in visitor arrivals spurred an increase in visitor spending that benefited all islands.  Growth in arrivals continues to be reflective of the attractive pricing and value-added packages being offered by Hawai’i hotels, travel partners and island businesses.  The improvement in personal daily spending, which increased $16 ($168 vs. $152) this July compared to last July, is another positive sign for the industry.

We look forward to continued increases in visitor arrivals.  However, tourism’s recovery cannot be measured by arrivals alone.  Recovery relies on increased spending by our visitors.  As reported by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism in its economic forecast released on August 19, expected increases in visitor arrivals and expenditures will help sustain a gradual recovery for Hawai’i’s economy, but visitor expenditures are not expected to recover to 2007’s peak until 2013.  After two years of decline, businesses throughout the state are encouraged by the improvements in the visitor industry.

State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert can be reached at marsha.wienert@hawaii.gov

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