HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Through the month of November, the tourism economy in Hawaii is more than $2.1 billion ahead of the first 11 months of 2011 and will likely break visitor spending records, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Visitors have spent a total of $12.9 billion through November, or about $193 a day -- 16 dollars more per day than a year ago. Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA, said that translates to $1.5 billion in state tax revenue.
Actual visitor numbers also are up. Visitor arrival numbers through November totaled 7.27 million, up nearly ten percent from the same period the year before. That means on average, there were nearly 200,000 visitors in the state every day. During the depth of the global recession in 2009, the visitor arrival number dropped to 6.4 million.
Even visitors are noticing the difference.
"I see a lot more people coming from the mainland. That's what I've noticed since I've been here," said Caprise Areola of Los Angeles, who comes to Hawaii twice a year. "I do see a lot of people from Japan, China, just having a good time."
"It's very busy here," said Brent Le Beau of British Columbia, Canada, who was visiting with his mother, his wife, and his two small daughters. "Some of the service is a little bit slow, but very friendly people. Nice climate, good people. We're enjoying it."
HTA says that continual efforts to increase airlift and distribution throughout the state have led to growth in visitor arrivals across the four major islands, helping drive spending to record levels.
"We are optimistic as we look to the coming year, with the greatest potential from our international markets," said McCartney. "There has been tremendous growth from the Asia and Oceania regions, as a result of numerous new flights and increases in flight frequency in 2012 with more expected in 2013."
Visitor spending will likely reach, if not exceed, a goal of $13.9 billion in visitor expenditures set in July.