Hawaii's Tourism Reaches Record Highs
Hawaii Tourism Authority numbers released in June indicate the state is headed for a record-setting year, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.
“Hawaii’s tourism economy is on pace to set a record-breaking year in 2012 with double digit increases in visitor arrivals and expenditures through June,” Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney said in a statement.
The state set records for both the number of visitors and total visitor spending in June. It welcomed 677,218 visitors, an 11.5 percent increase in visitor arrivals for the month. Visitor spending in June was a record $1.2 billion, a 20.4 percent increase over last year.
The record high numbers brought the total number of visitors for the first six months of 2012 to 3,932,266, up 10.2 percent from last year. Total visitor spending for the year increased to $7.1 billion, a 21.4 percent increase.
In addition to the overall expenditure and arrival increases, all major visitor markets experienced significant growth.
Visitors from the Western U.S., Hawaii’s number one market, rose for the eighth month in a row. Arrivals were up 4 percent from last year to 285,342 visitors.
The Eastern U.S. market grew by 8.1 percent and spending increased by 10.6 percent over last year. June marked the 10th straight month of increases for this market.
Hawaii’s largest international visitor market, Japan, saw a staggering 21.9 percent increase in visitor arrivals and a 31.4 percent increase in spending.
In June, the state also saw increases over last year in the number of visitors traveling for business, as well as an increase in the number of honeymooners, according to information released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
A measure to allow commercial casinos in Oregon barely made it onto the November ballot, The Oregonian reported. The measure had 116,521 valid signatures, narrowly eclipsing the mandatory 116,284 needed for a constitutional measure. Supporters of the measure are backing a proposed casino in Wood Village, Ore. If passed, commercially operated casinos would be required to give 25 percent of their gaming revenues to the state. The state currently has only tribe-operated casinos.
LEGISLATIVE PAY CUT
Guam Sen. Chris Duenas introduced a bill in July that would cut roughly $5,000 from senatorial salaries to pay for school buses, according to the Pacific Daily News. Under Bill 491, salaries would be reduced from around $60,000 to $55,308. Duenas estimates savings between $120,000 and $130,000, which would be allocated to the Department of Public Works to help with the current school bus shortage. The ongoing bus shortage struggle will be exacerbated during the upcoming school year due to renovations at George Washington High, which will be running a double session.
The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services announced the state’s jobless rate continued to be well below the national average in June. Wyoming’s June 2012 jobless rate was 6 percent, more than 2 percent lower than the national average of 8.2 percent, The Associated Press reported. Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June came in at 5.4 percent, down 0.6 percent from June 2011.
The Idaho Lottery had a record-setting year in the 2012 fiscal year, according to The Associated Press. Total lottery sales topped out at $175.8 million, up 19.5 percent over 2011. The state’s Department of Education was a major beneficiary of the increased revenue. The lottery turned over $41.5 million to the department—the largest amount since the lottery began in 1989. The education funds were divided among the department’s public school building account, state building fund and a fund to help match school bond payments.
Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in July announced plans to reconfigure California’s water delivery system. The project, estimated to cost nearly $24 billion, involves the creation of two 35-miles tunnels, Reuters reported. The tunnels will divert water from the Sacramento River to an aqueduct system. It will reduce the number of fish killed by pumps and restore natural water flows bypassing the delta rather than drawing water directly from it.