Think About It: Visitor Vitality - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News, Weather and Sports

March 6, 2014

Think About It: Visitor Vitality

Lower visitor industry arrivals this year are a major component of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization's recent announcement that our economy will continue to grow in Hawaii, just not as much as was forecast back in October. As visitor arrivals slowed in the 2nd half of 2013 and numbers were basically flat in January vs. a year ago, the UHERO revisions suggest that visitor arrivals will increase here less than 1% this year, down from the projected 3.2% growth for 2014 announced back in October's report.

While this might sound like just a bunch of tweaked numbers and redundant prognostication, the ripple effects and ramifications on our day to day lives are often profound. Fewer visitors mean a lower tax base to work with for local government; fewer visitors mean less spending, which reduces our neighbor's or our own ability to fund a new car, a home renovation, or other higher ticket items. And of course, we simply don't have a lot of alternatives to replace a booming tourism industry here to help ensure that our economic engine hums along smoothly. Yes, the building industry should see a boost this year, but its effects are not as widespread nor nearly as large as those from the tourist industry.

So, we wait for bookings, renovated alluring rooms, and increased airline lift and hope that the numbers continue to at least inch forward after a couple of really good tourism years which followed some really bad ones. And we realize once again just how fragile is our whole economic base as we hopefully ponder anew possible economic supplements, complements, and alternatives to the business of entertaining and servicing visitors. Think about it…

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