Visitors to Hawaii hit record

LIHUE — The number of tourists visiting Hawaii hit a record for the month of August by topping 780,000 people.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Friday 3.1 percent more travelers came to the islands in August compared to the same month last year. It marked the 19th straight month of gains.

CEO George Szigeti says perpetuating Hawaiian culture and preserving Hawaii’s natural resources are key to maintaining the state’s record of success. He vowed to work together as an industry in the face of “relentless competition” from other destinations.

“Hawaii’s tourism industry realized its best summer ever,” Szigeti said. “From June through August, Hawaii welcomed 2.4 million visitors who generated $4.16 billion in spending for businesses and communities statewide, and produced $442.7 million in state tax revenue.

According to HTA, Kauai saw 104,838 visitors in August, an increase of .9 percent from 103,924 in August 2015, but those visitors came to spend money.

Total visitor expenditures on Kauai for August were $141.7 million, an increase of 13.2 percent from $125.1 million in August 2015.

Through August, Kauai has welcomed 807,916 guests, a decline of 809,996 recorded through August of 2015.

Visitor spending on Kauai, through August, totaled $1.13 million, up 6.3 percent from $1.06 million for the first eight months of 2015.

Visitors increased from the U.S. mainland and many foreign countries in August, but declined from Japan and Canada.

The agency says visitor spending rose more than 5 percent compared to the same month last year. It marked the third straight month of gains.

“We are already looking ahead to next year, having put into motion at the Hawaii Tourism Conference this week the vision, plans and innovations that will deepen the reach of Hawaii’s brand appeal to travelers worldwide,” Szigeti said.

President Barack Obama signed the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience, or NATIVE Act into law Monday.

The bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-S.D.) will enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.

The NATIVE Act will require federal agencies with tourism assets and responsibilities to include tribes and native organizations in national tourism efforts and strategic planning.

It will also provide Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, and American Indian communities with access to resources and technical assistance needed to build sustainable recreational and cultural travel and tourism infrastructure and capacity, spur economic development and create good jobs.

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