Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightSpending by visitors across the Hawaiian Islands in February jumped 18.7%, or $159.7 million year over year, to a total of $1.01 billion.

According to Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, visitor spending surpassed the previous record for February, set in 2007.

According to preliminary statistics released by the HTA on March 29, the state welcomed 593,018 visitors this February, an increase of 11.7% from the same month last year.

“The Hawaii Tourism Authority, together with our industry partners, had been maintaining momentum in all key major market areas, and projections for the rest of 2011 indicated strong growth,” McCartney said. “Clearly, we realize that this changed with the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.”

Among Hawaii’s top four markets, arrivals from the U.S. East climbed 10.9% in February, while those from the U.S. West surged 11.8%. Visitors from Canada jumped 19.7%, and those from Japan were up 8.2%.

The state saw a total of 14,384 visitors arrive by cruise, an increase of 6.2% from February 2010, and the total number of travelers who came to Hawaii for meetings, incentives and conventions skyrocketed 57.1% year over year.

Following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the HTA is now expecting 154,000 fewer arrivals and $250 million less in total visitor spending through June.

“We fully believe that Hawaii will be able to weather this latest tragedy,” McCartney said. “The economic growth that we have seen over the last year is an indicator of how resilient we are as a community and destination. And we have launched our HTA Economic Recovery Plan that will help us achieve our 2011strategic plan goals and preserve the momentum of our economic recovery.”
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