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Island tourism stays strong

LIHUE — The Hawaii Tourism Authority says spending by visitors surged nearly 9 percent during the first half of the year compared to last year.

The state agency said Thursday visitors spent $8.4 billion from January through June. That’s an increase of 8.7 percent. The number of travelers to Hawaii topped 4.6 million. That’s 4.3 percent more than a year ago.

On Kauai, visitor arrivals for June totaled 124,130, an 8.8 percent increase from June 2016. Visitor spending for June on Kauai totaled $172.6 million, a 10.5 percent increase.

For the first half of 2017, Kauai has welcomed 626,409 visitors, a 7.5 percent increase over the same time period last year. Those visitors spent $954.1 million, a 16.6 percent increase.

“Our state’s economy benefited from the consistently strong travel demand that Hawaii realized in the first half of the year, especially from the mainland U.S., Japan and Canada,” said George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO.

“These statewide results and Hawaii’s ability to successfully compete with other global destinations is shared by all of our tourism stakeholders and industry professionals,” he added.

Increases from the U.S. mainland, Japan and Canada led the gains.

Spending and arrivals also grew on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Spending and arrivals rose by double digits on the Big Island, thanks to the return of direct air service from Tokyo to Kailua-Kona.

Szigeti said Hawaiian culture and the aloha spirit set Hawaii apart as a place for travelers to visit.

In the first half of 2017, total air capacity to the Hawaiian Islands dropped slightly to 6,004,333 seats compared to the same period last year.

For the first half of 2017, total cruise visitors (arrivals by cruise ships and by air to board the Hawaii home-ported cruise ship) increased 23 percent to 131,707 compared to a year ago.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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