After a strong 2016, Hawaii continued its steady upward trend in visitor arrivals and spending during the first half of 2017, according to preliminary data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

With boosts in air and cruise arrivals, there were 4.6 million visitors from January through June, a 4.3% increase over the same period last year, who spent $8.4 billion, an 8.7% boost.

While arrivals by air increased 4% for that period to a total of 4.5 million, the number of people arriving on cruise ships shot up 24%, bringing more than 70,000 visitors.

All of the four major islands, Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island, saw year-over-year growth in both metrics, but Hawaii Island was the only one to see double-digit growth in both figures. The island received new direct air service from Japan and U.S. mainland which contributed to the larger gains, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The Aloha State's biggest feeder markets, including U.S. West, U.S. East, Japan and Canada, led the way, all demonstrating double-digit growth in spending, and higher overall visitor numbers. Arrivals and spending from all other international markets declined compared to January to June 2016.

"Our state's economy benefited from the consistently strong travel demand that Hawaii realized in the first half of the year, especially from the mainland U.S., Japan and Canada,"  George Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said in a statement.

June capped off the first half with nearly 860,000 visitors (4.5% more than June 2016), and they spent $1.4 billion while on the islands (3.7% more than June 2016). U.S. East Coast travelers fueled the increase compared to last year, with a 10% increase in arrivals from that region over the same period.

U.S. East visitors also exhibited the greatest increase over the first half of the year (8% rise in arrivals). Japan followed closely behind, with 7% more visitors from the Pacific Rim nation than the first six months of 2016. Japan accounted for the largest percentage jump in visitors spending, a 13.6% increase.

Overall, visitor spending on the islands grew by approximately 9% through the first six months, an increase of $78 million.

"As global competition expands and diversifies giving travelers more options, the sharing of the Hawaiian culture, the warmth of our aloha spirit lifestyle and goodwill of our residents distinguishes Hawaii as a place to come enjoy and experience, in many cases, again and again," Szigeti said.
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