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Tourism Records Set in 3 Key Categories for 2017

January 2, 2018, 11:52 AM HST · Updated January 2, 12:58 PM
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While full-year visitor statistics for 2017 are still being finalized, industry executives say they already know that new yearly records will be set in three key categories.

In a president’s message, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority president and CEO, George D. Szigeti said the industry looks ahead to 2018 with hope, as statistics show records will be set for generated state tax revenue, visitor spending and visitor arrivals.

“Generated state tax revenue supports government programs all communities need. Visitor spending grows the state’s economy. Visitor arrivals spread tourism’s impact to all islands,” said Szigeti.  “Most importantly, tourism’s success is supporting approximately 200,000 jobs statewide for residents who depend on Hawaiʻi’s number one industry for their livelihoods.”

Szigeti described the industry’s success as a “collaborative team effort” supported by tourism’s stakeholders, including elected officials, leaders in the private sector and professionals on the front line interacting with visitors daily.

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Air Seat Capacity Increasing in 2018

“We have good reason to believe tourism’s momentum can be sustained in 2018,” said Szigeti, noting that over the last half of 2017, there was a steady rise in air seat capacity to Hawaiʻi.

In November, air seat capacity increased by 5% compared to a year ago, the highest monthly rate of growth in 2017.  “We expect air seat capacity in December to show an increase of about 6% when the month’s visitor statistics are released,” he said.

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According to Szigeti, this upward trend is continuing into 2018 in response to travel demand. In the first quarter, based on scheduled flights serving Hawaiʻi, air seat capacity is projected to grow by 10.9%.

“Travel demand for Hawaiʻi drives air seat capacity, which produces more bookings for hotels, activities and attractions, and increases spending at restaurants, retail outlets and stores. All of this combines to strengthen Hawaiʻi’s economy and, ultimately, support jobs for residents,” said Szigeti.

Air seat capacity is, “arguably, the strongest statistical indicator of potential success” for Hawaiʻi tourism, according to the HTA.  “That being the case, Hawaiʻi is well-positioned entering 2018,” said Szigeti.

“Yet, we all know tourism is a fragile industry and continued growth can be interrupted at any time by an economic downturn, international crisis or natural disaster,” he said.  “Moreover, destinations worldwide are relentless in trying to draw travelers away from Hawaiʻi.”

Because of that, Szigeti said, “we can never assume strong travel demand for Hawaiʻi is a given. We have to constantly market the Hawaiian Islands to help ensure travelers keep booking trips to Hawaiʻi and driving travel demand.”

As travel demand stays strong for Hawaiʻi, so does air seat capacity and our state’s economy, according to Szigeti.

“Everyone can count on HTA and its Global Marketing Team to continually work at driving travel demand for the Hawaiian Islands,” he said.

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