By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU — The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Thursday 2.5 percent more visitors came to Hawaii in August compared with the same month last year, marking two years of continuous monthly growth.
But CEO Mike McCartney said the agency expects visitor arrivals and traveler spending to slow in the fall.
Fluctuating fuel costs, the strength of the dollar against other currencies and economic conditions have been affecting the length of time visitors stay in the islands, he said.
“It is important that we recognize that the volatility of the market and competition could hinder the growth of our state’s lead economic driver and resource,” McCartney said, noting the tourism industry supports 170,000 jobs statewide.
Overall spending by travelers hit $1.2 billion in August, a little less than 1 percent more than last year.
The number of visitors from the western U.S. dropped for the first time in nearly two years, falling 1.3 percent to 301,323. Tourists from the eastern region climbed 2.4 percent.
Nearly 2 percent more travelers visited from Japan, or 161,731 people, but they spent 10 percent less compared with August 2012, thanks to a stronger dollar.
Travel from other parts of Asia continued to grow rapidly, with arrivals from South Korea surging 42.3 percent to more than 15,000. Travelers from China jumped 28.7 percent to nearly 13,500.
So far this year, overall visitor arrivals are up about 5 percent at 5.7 million.
McCartney said the industry has contributed $1.04 billion in tax revenue to the state of Hawaii, $50 million more than at the same point last year.