Sunday, July 8, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

State economic
forecast on the
bright side

Prediction of growth
hinges on uptick in
tourism, Japan

By Tim Ruel

The state business department has delivered a hopeful forecast for Hawaii's economy, estimating tourist arrivals will rise 1.4 percent during a year that has been mainly flat, and predicting growth in Japan's economy just as the outlook is getting worse.

The state defends its Quarterly Statistical and Economic Report, citing the reliability of its sources.

The information on tourism and Japan's economy comes from the June reports of the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and the Consensus Forecasts-USA, which are surveys of economic analysts. In the past, the data from the two sources has generally proved to be accurate, said Pearl Imada Iboshi, research administrator at the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which released the state's report Thursday.


Measurements of the Hawaii economy, in percent change. Figures from 1999 and 2000 are actual. Figures for 2001, 2002 and 2003 are projected.

Indicator 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Population NA 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.7
Visitor arrivals 2.2 3.5 1.4 2.6 2.5 2.4
Visitor spending -0.3 6.3 3.5 5.0 5.0 5.0
Personal income 2.6 4.8 4.5 4.4 4.4 4.4
Total jobs 0.7 3.1 2.4 2.1 2.0 1.8
Gross state product 2.6 5.3 4.6 4.4 4.4 4.4

Source: State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

What's more, the reports from Blue Chip and Consensus Forecasts are monthly. Any significant downturn or upturn would reflect in future projections, which would lead to revisions in the state's next quarterly report, Iboshi said.

As for the tourism arrivals forecast, the first half of this year was bound to be flat, since the first half of 2000 was strong by comparison, Iboshi said.

The second half of 2000 was not as strong, however, leaving room for growth this year, she said.

For the first half of 2000, 3,472,429 visitors came to Hawaii, a 5 percent increase over 3,305,723 in 1999, according to state figures. For the second half of 2000, 3,503,437 visitors arrived, up just 2 percent from 3,435,314 the year prior.

Still, for visitor counts to rise 1.4 percent this year -- to 7,073,528 over the record 6,975,866 tourists that came in 2000 -- arrivals would have to jump at least 2.8 percent in the coming six months, since arrivals have been 1.4 percent lower so far this year.

Iboshi replied: "Possible."

The main thing, when it comes to Japanese arrivals, is not so much Japan's economy as it is the value of the yen, which dictates how much money Japanese visitors can spend in Hawaii, Iboshi said.

The outlook for the yen for the next two years is basically flat, according to the June report of Consensus Forecasts. That means Japanese visits shouldn't plummet, even if the economy does turn downward. No growth is better than negative growth, Iboshi said.

Meanwhile, the mainland's economy should finish the year with a growth of 1.8 percent, according to forecasts from the June edition of Blue Chip Economic Indicators.

That's not great, but again, it's better than nothing, Iboshi said.

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