Couple on Waikiki Beach // (c) 2010 HTA/Sri Maiava Rusden
According to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), visitors spent $11.4 billion in Hawaii in 2010, up 16.2 percent from 2009. Preliminary figures also showed last year's arrivals exceeded seven million visitors.
While the numbers are solid indicators that tourism is on the upswing, the state still has a long road ahead to return to pre-recession levels, said HTA president Mike McCartney.
"While (the data) is encouraging news, this follows 22 months of declining arrivals and expenditures," McCartney said. "We have a way to go to achieve full recovery."
HTA will use its funds strategically, efficiently and effectively to continue Hawaii's tourism economy recovery in 2011, McCartney said.
Growth is occurring in both leisure and business travel, with December 2010 data showing increases in the number of visitors who came to Hawaii for meetings, conventions and incentives. This, in addition to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November 2011, is a good indicator for the potential for increased future MCI business in Hawaii, said McCartney.
HTA's continued emphasis on increasing airlift, especially direct airlift to the neighbor islands, is expected to contribute to spreading visitor spending and job creation across the state.
"Clearly, we need to maintain the momentum tourism has contributed to Hawaii's economy," said McCartney. "When tourism does well, Hawaii also thrives -- with more jobs and opportunities for Hawaii's people."