Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney says the state's tourism industry is continuing the positive momentum in 2013 after a record-breaking year.
Visitor expenditures through February 2013 is at $2.66 billion, which is $188 million more than the same period last year.
The growth helped to generate $280 million in state tax revenue, an increase of $20 million from February 2012.
"We continue to focus on enhancing visitor distribution and economic growth across the state, especially during the slower shoulder periods, in order to maintain balance between resident and visitor needs," said McCartney. "Through working with our industry partners, we have been able to grow visitor expenditures and arrivals on all of the Hawaiian Islands, with significant increases on the neighbor islands."
Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands spent an average of $200 per person per day, $10 more per day than a year ago. In total, visitors spent an average of $45 million per day through February 2013 -- $21 million on Oahu, $13 million in Maui County, $6 million on Hawaii Island and $4 million on Kauai.
Through February 2013, the average growth in total visitor expenditures for the neighbor islands was 9.1 percent in comparison to the 5.6 percent increase on Oahu.
Total visitor arrivals to all of the neighbor islands was also slightly higher (+6.6 percent) than to Oahu (+6.1 percent).
"While we are making strides in increasing travel and affecting economic recovery on the neighbor islands, we believe there is still potential for growth and continue to work to drive demand across all of the Hawaiian Islands," said McCartney.
McCartney says access remains a key component to increasing visitor distribution.
Year-to-date through February, international air seats increased by 11.1 percent, and the HTA anticipates this growth to continue through the first quarter with additional airlift in March from New Zealand and Tokyo-Narita.
"Going into the second quarter, we are supporting and marketing events like Mele Mei and the LPGA Lotte Championship which will help to boost travel during the slower months of April and May," said McCartney. "North America's longer-than-anticipated winter season is also contributing to positive arrivals as visitors opt to travel to the Hawaiian Islands for our year-round tropical climate."
The HTA will focus on the diversification of new segments including the meetings, conventions and incentives market and look to expand in Latin America and Taiwan in order to sustainably grow our tourism economy.