Tourists walk on Honolulu's Waikiki Beach in December. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty…)
The rebound of Hawaii's tourism industry continued in January as the Aloha State enjoyed a record $1.345 billion in visitor spending.
The spending total was a 14% increase from the same month in January 2011 and the best one-month total on record, surpassing the December 2011 peak of $1.298 billion.
Tourism officials in the state attributed the new record to a 7.7% increase in total arrivals, to 643,616 visitors, and a 5% increase in spending, an increase from an average of $183 per person per day in January 2011 to $192 in January 2012.
"A strong holiday season, combined with pent-up demand for travel to the Hawaiian Islands, increases in airlift and a large delegation of convention attendees were all contributing factors to the increases seen in January," said Mike McCartney, president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
The biggest increases in visitors came from Canada, the eastern half of the U.S. and Japan. Convention goers also contributed to the increase, with the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention bringing 6,000 delegates to the islands.
The state's tourism industry suffered a heavy blow during the recession and continued to lose visitors when an earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year reduced the number of visits from big-spending Japanese vacationers.
But Hawaii's tourism numbers have began to rebound in 2011, thanks to stronger economies in the U.S. and other countries, such as Australia, China and Brazil.
New regulations may lead to airline ticket "sticker shock"
Airlines raise fares again, point to higher fuel costs