- Associated Press - Thursday, February 2, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - The state’s economist says a slight decline in the number of seats on flights to Hawaii will likely slow tourism industry growth.

Eugene Tian said Thursday air seats are forecast to drop 0.5 percent this year.

Still, he says more than 9 million travelers are expected to visit Hawaii in 2017. That would be a record.

Tian spoke on a panel in Honolulu sponsored by the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

But economist Paul Brewbaker told the meeting individual tourists are each spending less compared to a decade ago, when adjusting for inflation.

He says this is because travelers are shortening their stays as room rates rise, particularly on Oahu. He also blames weaker foreign currencies like the Japanese yen, which give international visitors less to spend in the U.S.

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