Insight Hawaii Insight Feb. visitor numbers spur hope for surpassing 2007 By Shane Nelson / April 02, 2012 Share 1 -- The Aloha State welcomed 626,367 visitors this February, an increase of 5.6% over the same month last year, according to preliminary figures released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) March 29. “Hawaii’s tourism economy continues to grow following another strong month of visitor arrivals and spending,” Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Visitor spending for February 2012 contributed $1.1 billion into the state’s economy, up 8.5% over last year, bringing the year-to-date total to $2.44 billion. “At this pace, we are not only exceeding our year-over-year expenditures, but will surpass the peak year of 2007 and are currently ahead of the aggressive targets set for 2012.” Visitor spending was up 11.4% through the first two months of this year when compared with the $2.19 billion travelers spent across the Islands in January and February 2011.The destination saw increased arrivals from all four of its largest source markets in February, including a 3.8% boost from the U.S. West. Visitors from the U.S. East climbed 2.4%, while those from Canada jumped 9.6% year over year and travelers from Japan were up 4.7%. More than 38,000 visitors traveled to Hawaii for a honeymoon in February, a surge of 26.1% from the same month a year ago, while those who came for corporate meetings, conventions and incentives (MCI) trips sank 12.6%. Year to date through February, however, MCI business is up 2.5% from 2011. Hawaii also saw available air seats arriving on nonstop flights grow by 5.8% in February. “The Hawaii Tourism Authority will remain vigilant and continue to monitor the rising fuel prices and how it may affect people’s decision to travel this year,” McCartney said. “However, we are optimistic that the increases in airlift through the second and third quarter, coupled with the anticipated announcement of new service, are indicative that there continues to be high demand for travel to the Hawaiian Islands.” With 2012 being a leap year, the HTA took February’s extra day into consideration: According to the HTA’s calculations, when Feb. 29 was factored out, visitor arrivals still increased 2.5% year over year, while spending was up 4.7%. The HTA’s February visitor statistics are online at www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/research.