Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

The Hawaiian Islands extended their impressive run of tourism industry returns this year as the destination enjoyed its best month ever for visitor arrivals in July.    

The Aloha State welcomed more than 835,000 travelers in July, a year-over-year increase of 2.1%, according to preliminary estimates released Aug. 30 by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). Total visitor spending also improved year over year, climbing 1.5%, to more than $1.4 billion.

"It's inspiring to see the second half of 2016 start with a new all-time record for monthly visitor arrivals," George Szigeti, the HTA's president and CEO, said in a statement.

July arrivals from Hawaii's largest source market, U.S. states west of the Rockies, grew 5.3% while total spending by those visitors was up 4.8% to more than $546 million. Arrivals from the U.S. East, however, were essentially unchanged year over year and spending dropped 3.3% to $372 million.

The Hawaiian Islands welcomed fewer visitors from Japan, meanwhile, as arrivals from the Aloha State's largest international source market dipped by 3.6% in July. Visitor totals were also off from Canada, slipping 3.1%. Total expenditures were flat from Japan at $182.3 million while Canadian spending jumped 8.5% year over year to $51 million.

Year to date through July, Hawaii welcomed a total of 5.2 million visitors, an increase of 2.5% year over year. Those travelers spent $9.1 billion across the Aloha State, an increase of nearly 3% over the same seven-month period in 2015.

Kirk Dalrymple, a Tahiti, Mexico and Hawaii specialist working for Yankee Clipper Travel in San Francisco, said the perception of Hawaii as a safer vacation destination has provided the Islands with a competitive edge thus far in 2016.

"Hawaii has definitely increased," he said of his business to the destination this year. "Zika has decreased a lot of other places, like Mexico, and the violence in Europe has decreased business there. Hawaii has really increased, because of its perceived safety."

Regina Tait, owner of the Travelcom Travel Agency in Huntington Beach, Calif., has also seen an increase in Hawaii interest from some U.S. clients concerned about international travel.

"I think with some of the turmoil in the world right now some people are looking to stay within the United States," she explained, adding that not everyone is worried because her agency is still booking many global vacations.

"But there are people who are uncomfortable," she said. "Some don't want to travel to Mexico because of Zika. Hawaii's pretty clean and safe in that regard, and people like the U.S. dollar aspect there. There's also not a history of terrorism in Hawaii, which can be reassuring to people."
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