Hawaii’s growth
in foreign arrivals
beats the U.S.
average, study says

Honolulu ranked among the top U.S. destinations for overseas travelers last year, a time of solid growth in the visitor industry, according to a study by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that 32 cities and 22 states posted double-digit growth in overseas visitors in 2004. The top cities visited by overseas travelers in 2004, in order, were New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Fla., Honolulu, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.

With 14 percent growth in overseas visitors last year, Hawaii captured 11 percent of the international market and was ahead of the U.S. average growth of 13 percent. Last year saw the best growth in overseas arrivals to the United States since 1995, said Douglas Baker, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for services.

According to the survey, Honolulu, which captured 9.2 percent of the U.S. market for international travelers, was the fifth most popular city to visit in the nation.

Maui was the 25th most popular U.S. destination for overseas visitors. The Valley Isle's international market grew 12.8 percent from 2003 to 2004, according to the survey. Other cities with similar market share include Newark, N.J., and Phoenix.

The Big Island was the 37th most popular U.S. destination for overseas visitors. The island's overseas market had 13.3 percent growth from 2003 to 2004. Other cities with similar market share included Cleveland, Ohio, Oakland, Calif., and Santa Barbara, Calif.

Kauai, which had 12.5 percent growth in its international market in 2004, was the 46th most popular U.S. destination, a ranking that it shared with Atlantic City, N.J., Charlotte, N.C., and Pittsburgh.

Last year was the first year that Hawaii's international market, which had grown soft in the years before 2001, started to turn around, said Frank Haas, marketing director for the state Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Japanese arrivals to Hawaii rebounded to 1.5 million in 2004 from 1.3 million the year earlier, though the islands also have had growth in visitors from Oceania, Europe and other parts of Asia, Haas said.

"All of these markets had declined, but we are seeing strong demand across the board," Haas said. "It's a strong dollar and we've put a lot of hard work into working with the travel industry to attract overseas visitors."

To further grow its Japanese arrivals, the Big Island Visitors Bureau has designed a micro Web site, Big Island Kids, that targets Japanese children. The site, which went online today in time for Tanabata, a popular children's festival in Japan, is an opportunity for the Big Island to grow its second-largest market, said Margo Mau, director of Japan sales for the Big Island Visitors Bureau. The island attracted 216,153 visitors from Japan last year.

U.S. Commerce Department
Big Island Kids
(in Japanese)

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