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Nearly 9m travelled to Hawaii in 2016

Associated Press logo Associated Press 31/01/2017

Nearly nine million people travelled to Hawaii in 2016 as visitor spending and arrival figures hit records for the fifth straight year, the Hawaii Tourism Authority says.

The state agency said 8.9 million visitors came to Hawaii, up three per cent from 2015. Tourists spent $US15.6 billion ($A20.6 billion) in the islands, a four per cent increase over the previous year.

A recovering US housing market boosted travel to the islands, as have stable oil prices, said Daniel Nahoopii, the agency's director of tourism research.

"The economy has been pretty strong in the United States mainland," he said.

The introduction of new airline routes and service also brought more visitors. For example, last year was the first full year Virgin American operated flights to Hawaii. The airline launched service to the state with routes from San Francisco to Honolulu and Kahului in late 2015.

Travellers from the US west coast grew 4.3 per cent to 3.7 million. Travellers from the eastern part of the continental US climbed 3.7 per cent to 1.9 million.

Nahoopii said the industry benefited from relatively stable exchange rates for the Korean won and Australian dollar when it came to international travellers. A slight strengthening of the Japanese yen also helped.

Nahoopii said data indicates the additional visitors are staying in hotels and vacation rentals.

The number of people staying in hotels climbed 3.5 per cent while those staying in rental homes climbed seven per cent, he said.

The state is forecasting continued visitor growth this year, though at a slower pace.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said in November it expected 1.8 per cent more travellers to come to Hawaii in 2017. It forecast spending would rise four per cent.

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