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Hawaii is rightfully ambitious, as routes from the U.S. west coast to the islands and then on to Asia, are much sought after. But it needs to keep an eye on the room rates before it begins to scare too many people away.

State tourism officials aim at luring 8.4 million travelers to the islands this year, instead of the 8.7 million targeted earlier, David Uchiyama, the Hawaii Tourism Authority vice president, announced Wednesday.

The less ambitious goal comes after several months of slowing growth in the state’s biggest industry, but it’s still 2.5 percent higher than the record number of visitors who came to Hawaii last year.

Uchiyama released the updated figure at the tourism authority’s spring marketing meeting in Honolulu.

Last week the agency released data showing visitors spent 5 percent less in January than the same month last year. It was the fifth straight month of spending declines.

CEO Mike McCartney said last week the tourism economy is starting to plateau after two years of record-breaking growth.

Fluctuating exchange rates, growing competition and the increasing cost of a Hawaiian vacation have all contributed to the spending drop, he said. The trend should continue through the middle of the year, he said.

University of Hawaii economists have predicted that 0.7 percent more visitors will come to the islands this year than last, a slower rate of growth than the 2.5 percent increase marked in 2013 and the 9.7 percent jump experienced in 2012.

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Tags: hawaii, tourism

Photo credit: This Oct. 29, 2013 photo shows tourists on Lanikai Beach in Kailua, Hawaii. Audrey McAvoy / Associated Press

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