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The disappointment with falling short of 2013 targets speaks to both the ambitions Hawaii had for last year and the complications of mixing visitors from the U.S. and China, Korea, and Japan.
Hawaii tourism had another record year in 2013.
Last year’s $14.5 billion in visitor expenditures contributed $1.5 billion in state tax revenues, the Hawaii Tourism Authority announced Thursday. That’s an increase of $30 million — or 2 percent — from the record set in 2012.
More than 8.2 million visitors traveled to Hawaii last year. That’s 2.6 percent more than in 2012, when a little less than 8.1 million people visited.
On any given day in 2013, more than 204,000 visitors were in Hawaii, on average.
Mike McCartney, the tourism authority’s president and CEO, said the HTA is pleased to see 2012 figures surpassed, but traveler numbers fell short of 2013 targets.
“Fluctuations in currency exchange rates, taxes and fuel surcharges have slowed bookings and hampered growth, causing a leveling off throughout the second half of 2013,” McCartney said in a statement.
The downward trend is expected to continue into the first half of this year, particularly during the slower shoulder travel period in April and May, he said.
To diversify markets, the focus remains on Asia and other developing markets, McCartney said. He said promotions and other efforts saw positive results last year from markets including China and Taiwan.