It was only four years ago that Hawaii's tourism industry was in such a rut that state leaders turned to its most famous native son -- President Obama -- for help.
But things are looking sunny in the Aloha state, which is on pace to break last year's visitor and tourism spending records.
For the first four months of 2013, Hawaii has welcomed an average of 23,300 visitors a day, a 6.1% increase over the same period last year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. So far this year, tourists have spent an average of $42 million a day, a 6.3% increase over the same period last year, the tourism authority said.
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In 2012, Hawaii set new tourism records with nearly 8 million visitors, who spent $14.3 billion.
While the biggest increase in visitor spending so far in 2013 came from travelers from the U.S., the biggest growth in total visitors came from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and Latin America, according to the tourism authority.
"Our core markets have helped to sustain us, and we are pleased to see arrivals from our developing international markets increase by double digits," said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive of the authority.
It's a significant turnaround from four years ago, when the recession and a slump in business travel cut into Hawaii's tourism industry.
The slump was so steep that then-Gov. Linda Lingle and 95 government leaders, business owners and tourism officials wrote to Obama, urging him to block any policies that would limit business travel in the future.
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