HONOLULU -- The U.S. economic boom is reaching Hawaii's tourism
industry, which had experienced years of stagnation in visitor
numbers, according to statistics from the state.
The number of U.S. visitors to Hawaii was up 7.5% for the first
seven months of the year compared to last year, according to the
state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
A total of 2.3 million Americans visited the state through July.
Combined U.S. and international visitor numbers were 4.1 million
through July, a 4.7% increase over the same period last year.
"If Hawaii can maintain this strong growth during the second
half, we will exceed 7 million visitors in 2000," said Seiji Naya,
The last time Hawaii came close to exceeding 7 million was in
1990, when there were 6.9 million visitors, the highest figure ever
"The resurgent visitor industry is certainly an important part
of Hawaii's economic revitalization," said Naya. "We have seen
[year over year] increases every month since February."
The increase in U.S. visitors was helped by an increase in
airline seat inventory.
Domestic and international scheduled air seats to Hawaii
increased by 8.1% in the first seven months of the year, while the
number of air seats on domestic flights grew by 14%.
A low inventory of airline seats to Hawaii has been the subject
of complaints in the industry here for years.
Airlines have a tough time making money on the long-haul route
because there are few business travelers, and many vacationers want
to use frequent flyer points to make the trip.
California continues to be the best U.S. source of visitors to
Hawaii, with 815,517 coming in the first seven months, an increase
of 9.7% compared to the same period last year.
Even though their numbers are small, the number of visitors from
New York and New Jersey are increasing. New York sent 67,000
visitors to Hawaii in the first seven months of the year, an
increase of 11.6% over last year. New Jersey visitors numbered
38,000 during the same period, an increase of 9.8%.
By island, U.S. and international visitors continue to prefer
Oahu. Visitor numbers to Oahu climbed 4% in the first seven months,
to 2.8 million.
Kauai saw an increase of 4.1% in the same period, to 646,393.
Maui registered an increase of 1.4%, to 1.3 million.
The Big Island recorded an increase of 2.1%, to 766,853. Molokai
had a decline of 7.7%, to 35,852, and Lanai a 19.5% increase, to