University of Hawaii economists have revised their visitor arrivals forecast for 2013, saying growing occupancy and higher room rates at the state’s hotels are slowing visitor industry growth.

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said in its recently released third-quarter forecast that the total number of visitors will likely increase 5.5% across the Hawaiian Islands this year, a dip of just over a percentage point from projections the group made earlier this year.

“After several years of robust expansion, growth in the visitor industry is tapering off,” the economists said of Hawaii’s visitor business. “Room rates are higher and occupancy tighter, limiting incremental gains.”

The organization is forecasting a 7.4% boost in statewide visitor expenditures this year.

“While the large rise in room rates is good for hoteliers, higher room bills are squeezing spending on other tourism activities, dining, shopping, and so forth,” the report said. “A healthy rebound in U.S. household income would help to alleviate this squeeze.”

The organization expects overall visitor arrivals to increase 2.3% in 2014 and another 1.7% in 2015.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Aloha State welcomed nearly 8 million visitors in 2012, an all-time high for the destination.
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