July visitor numbers hit record

LIHUE – What started out as a good year for Hawaii’s tourism industry is turning out to be a great year: A record-breaking 816,345 visitors traveled to the state in July and spent $1.42 billion while here.

On Kauai, visitor numbers reached as high as 115,666 last month. While that wasn’t an island record, it is the largest influx of visitors in recent years. And in addition to more travelers visiting the island, they are also spending more money, which pushed overall tourism revenue for the first seven months of the year up to $981.0 million, according to preliminary figures from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

That is a 16.3 percent increase compared to the same period last year, which resulted in an additional $137.2 million coming in to the island’s economy.

In terms of tourism spending, Kauai again saw the largest growth of all the major islands.

Holo Holo Charters General Manager Chandra Bertsch has noticed a increase in business.

“There’s been a definite growth over last year,” Bertsch said Wednesday. “Through the summer we were pretty much sold out on a daily basis.”

Holo Holo Charters offers two rigid-hull Inflatable tours that depart out of Hanalei, as well as two by catamaran out of Port Allen, allowing the company to serve more than 200 people a day. Bertsch added that she has noticed a growth in foreign visits, especially the European market.

Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO George Szigeti said that statewide, overall tourism spending pushed $9 billion and generated $958.17 million of tax revenue for the state.

“The growth we have been experiencing is keeping us on track for another milestone year for Hawaii’s visitor industry,” Szigeti said.

While the growth has not been as significant as in previous years, the HTA is still, “projecting to reach new records in spending and arrivals for 2015,” he said.

On average, in 2015 tourists stayed on Kauai for 7.72 days, and spent $1,403 per person, per trip. That represents a 10.6 percent growth in visitor spending – the most of any of the islands.

While the trend is positive, the growth of the tourism industry could still be disrupted. Szigeti warned that global economic uncertainty, including factors such as China’s slowing economy and fluctuations in the stock market, could impact total visitor numbers and spending trends.

The single-best month for tourism on Kauai was in July 2007. There were 129,383 visitors that month, but that was prior to the stock market crash.

Kauai Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho summed the situation up before heading to the Hawaii Tourism Authority tourism conference that takes place today and Friday on Oahu.

“The summer demand for a Kauai vacation has been strong thus far,” Kanoho said.

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