With the tourism industry improving, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is slightly more optimistic about Hawaii’s economy for this year and next.
The department said Thursday that it expects that international economic conditions plus increasing tourism arrivals and expenditures in Hawaii will help sustain a gradual economic recovery in the islands.
“We are pleased by the strong performance of our tourism industry,” department Director Ted Liu said. “We have seen job gains in the tourism-related fields during the first half of the year, and this will have a ripple effect that will help minimize job losses in other sectors during the second half of the year.”
The department’s updated forecast for 2010 real gross state domestic product is for 1.2 percent growth, slightly higher than the 1.1 percent forecast last quarter.
Department officials now predict total visitor arrivals to increase 4.6 percent this year, up from a 2.6 percent jump expressed in the previous forecast.
Visitor expenditures are now expected to increase 8.2 percent in 2010, 3.3 percentage points higher than the department said previously. Total visitor days are projected to increase 4.1 percent in 2010, compared to the 2.5 percent increase projected in the last forecast.
Meanwhile, total wage and salary jobs in Hawaii are now expected to decline 0.6 percent in 2010, better than the 0.9 percent decrease previously projected, the department said.
“Assuming continued improvement in national and international economic conditions, a gradual pace of recovery will likely continue next year and into 2012 and 2013, barring unforeseen events,” the department said.
Hawaii’s visitor count isn’t expected to recover to its 2007 peak level of 7.6 million until 2013, and the wage and salary job count will take longer to reach its peak year of 2007 with 631,000 jobs, it said.