The launch of new direct flights last month between Kahului and Washington state helped Maui enjoy continued growth in visitor arrivals and spending in November, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said.
Visitor arrivals last month increased by 8 percent to 180,002. That, in turn, boosted year-to-date arrivals to 2.08 million, a nearly 6 percent increase over the same time frame in 2011.
Maui saw an uptick in visitors for the month from the U.S. West (up 11 percent); Japan (up 11 percent); Canada (up 8.5 percent); and the East Coast (up 5 percent).
Allegiant Air began providing in November round-trip twice-weekly flights between Bellingham, Wash., and Kahului. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines launched a seasonal Kahului-to-Bellingham service four times a week.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority said in a statement that it anticipates added increases in arrivals to Maui through December "with the holiday season travel and festivals and events like the Wailea Wine & Food Festival and Maui Pops Orchestra Concert."
Maui's total visitor expenditures in November were up more than 21 percent over the same month last year to $274 million. Year to date through November, spending was up more than 19 percent to $3.3 billion.
Daily per person spending also saw sizable growth - up 14 percent in November to $188. Statewide, total visitor expenditures for the month shot up 23 percent to $1.1 billion. Hawaii saw a 14.5 percent increase in total arrivals to 651,158 visitors in November.
For the first 11 months of the year, total visitor expenditures swelled 19 percent to $12.9 billion, while total arrivals increased 10 percent to 7.3 million visitors.
"On average, there were 198,714 visitors in the state of Hawaii every day compared to the 189,441 visitors per day during the peak year of 2006. Therefore, 2012 should be the busiest year on record," the HTA said in a statement.
"In July, the HTA board of directors approved aggressive targets to reach a total of 7.89 million visitors and $13.9 billion in expenditures. At the current pace, we anticipate reaching, if not exceeding, these targets for the state."