KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Tourism has increased in the Big Island and is expected to be a main economic driver for the next few years.
West Hawaii Today reports a report released Friday from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization shows tourism on the Big Island rose nearly 3 percent, despite an 8 percent drop in Japanese visitors after direct flights from Japan to Kona International Airport were cut.
Hawaii Island's tourism did not have the highest tourism growth rate, but it did beat out Oahu growth.
Oahu's tourism increased by less than one percent so far this year.
Maui's tourism increased by more than 5 percent and Kauai's tourism increased by close to 4 percent.
Tourism is expected to continue growing before rising costs and occupancy stifle growth rates.