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Originally published Friday, January 25, 2013 at 11:02 AM

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Hawaii tourism booming

Almost 8 million travelers visited the islands in 2012, especially Oahu.

The Associated Press and The Seattle Times

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HONOLULU — A recovering global economy, more flights and marketing campaigns helped bring a record number of tourists to Hawaii last year.

Nearly 8 million travelers visited the islands in 2012, said the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

That’s an increase of nearly 10 percent over the previous year. It also breaks the previous record of 7.6 million visitors in 2006, before the recession encouraged travelers to stay home. And even more visitors are expected this year.

Travelers spent a record $14.3 billion in Hawaii last year, nearly 19 percent more than in 2011. The tourism boom made deals on flights, hotels and rental cars harder to find at peak times.

More than 80 percent of Oahu hotel rooms were full on average. Occupancy hovered above 70 percent on Maui and Kauai and above 60 percent on the Big Island.

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