The number of U.S. business travelers is growing faster than Asian visitors signaling that Hawaii’s efforts to build a meetings and conventions market could be key to keeping tourism thriving in the long term.
Hawaii visitors spent $1.1 billion in the state in April, up 1.8 percent from the same month last year, tourism officials said Thursday.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority said that the slight growth in total spending came from more visitors overall, nearly 667,000 for the month. Visitors on average were spending about the same each day, roughly $191 per person.
The agency says visitor spending is up 6.3 percent to $5 billion for the first four months of 2013, with 2.8 million tourists visiting the state so far this year.
Travelers from western U.S. states are still coming, but officials say tourists from the region are spending slightly less each day and taking slightly shorter trips than last year.
The authority says the state saw more than 100,000 Japanese visitors in April, up 6.5 percent. But Japanese tourists spent $262 per person per day, 12.5 percent less than in April 2012.
Tourism officials said fewer visitors from Japan bought higher-end trip packages, while the yen was weaker compared with the dollar.
Total spending declined 1.7 percent on Maui to $295.6 million, while increasing on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.
Meeting, convention and incentives travel was up nearly 39 percent to nearly 55,000 travelers.
Air capacity to Hawaii rose 9.5 percent in April to nearly 892,000 seats, with seats increasing to all major parts of the state except Hilo.
The number of visitors to come by cruise ship fell nearly 12 percent to 38,551 visitors in April.
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Photo credit: Tourists snap photos outside of the Jagger Museum in Hawaii's volcano national park. Ewen Roberts / Flickr