The number of visitors to Hawaii remains high, despite a drop in arrivals from Japan. Visitor spending is tracked by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which says April was the 12th consecutive month of double-digit increases. In the first four months of this year, visitors spent just over four billion dollars in Hawaii.

One interesting note is that visitor spending is up on all the islands, with “arrivals and expenditures currently on pace with our peak years of 2006 and 2007” according to an HTA statement by President and CEO Mike McCartney. The HTA credits marketing efforts in China, Korea, Oceana and North America with helping to offset reductions in visits from Japan.

Another interesting item is the impact of meetings and conventions. Apparently, it is OK to visit Hawaii for business events once again. The HTA says an April meeting of the American Academy of Neurology brought 9,000 delegates to the islands, resulting in 72,630 room nights. It expects a May meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (with 80,000 room nights) to help boost visitor totals for that month, as well. May is also the beginning of summer travel and the pace of activity is picking up.

The first time I visited Hawaii was for a conference. I can honestly say that visit changed my life. I was remembering what it felt like to experience Hawaii for the first time at dinner on Monday. Rick and I ate at the Ilikai Hotel. where we had stayed for that conference years ago. The hotel has had its ups and downs since then, but it is good to see the restaurant open again and the lobby spruced up. The smiles on the faces of guests watching sunset over the ocean were just as delighted as ours were then – and still are today.

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