- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - The Latest on the Hawaii tourism industry’s record breaking year (all times local):

1 p.m.

A strong U.S. economy helped lift Hawaii tourism industry to another record-breaking year.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s director of tourism research says the recovering U.S. housing market boosted travel to the islands. Daniel Nahoopii (nah-HOH-oh-pee-ee) says stable oil prices have also helped.

Nahoopii spoke Monday after the state agency reported a record 8.9 million travelers came to Hawaii last year. Spending rose to a record $15.6 billion in 2016.

Nahoopii says the introduction of new airline routes and service brought more travelers to the islands. For example, Virgin America began flying to Honolulu and Kahului from San Francisco in late 2015.

He says Hawaii has benefited from relatively stable exchange rates for the Korean won and Australian dollar and a slight strengthening of the Japanese yen.

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11 a.m.

Nearly 9 million visitors traveled to Hawaii last year as the state broke records for tourist arrivals and spending.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Monday 8.9 million visitors came to the state in 2016. That’s 3 percent more than the previous year.

Visitors spent $15.6 billion while in the islands, a 4 percent increase over 2015.

It’s the fifth straight year visitor arrival and spending figures have broken records.

Travelers from the western half of the continental U.S. grew 4.3 percent to 3.7 million. Travelers from the eastern part of the continental U.S. climbed 3.7 percent to 1.9 million.

Visitor traffic from Japan was little changed from the previous year at 1.5 million.

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