- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii’s tourism agency says a record 8.6 million people traveled to the islands last year.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Thursday that’s more than 4 percent higher than the year before.

Annual visitor spending rose more than 2 percent to $15 billion in 2015. That’s also a record.

More travelers came to the islands from the U.S. mainland, Australia and China. An increase in direct flights boosted travel from these places.

Oahu and Maui arrivals hit new highs, but the number of visitors to Hawaii Island and Kauai fell below records marked in 2007.

Tourism authority CEO George Szigeti says 2016 is off to a strong start. He says the agency is aggressively competing for the attention of global travelers.

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