In August, visitor spending was up 2.3 percent over August 2010 — good news for local business, jobs and government.

Indeed, for the year to date, spending is up 14.1 percent to $8.25 billion.

But the August numbers also came with bad news — namely, that visitor arrivals dropped 4.2 percent. They fell in June and July, too, and grew a mere .06 percent in May.

While arrivals are still up overall this year, it was a bummer of a summer.

There’s also been a rash of bad tourism news, much of it in just the past few weeks: visitors falling off trollies, hand grenades discovered on beaches, baggage screeners fired for not screening.

All of it comes as Honolulu is set to serve as the world’s stage during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting next month.

A Litany of Bad News

Not to dwell on the negative, but the state has sure got a big black eye these days.

In addition to the items listed above, consider these recent stories:

• City warns people to stay away from deteriorating seawall of Waikiki Natatorium.
• New Disney resort, Aulani, gets mixed reviews; time-share sales halted and fees hiked.
• Big Island Zipline worker falls to his death and another is injured.
• Ugly ownership struggle over a boutique brand Waikiki hotel.
• Japanese tourist has his ATM card stolen.
• AC system at the Honolulu airport breaks down.
• Flights to and from Japan canceled because of a typhoon.
• APEC beautification efforts fall behind schedule.
• Hundreds of Hyatt Waikiki workers on strike and picketing.
• Visa process for Chinese visitors taking forever.
• Wastewater enters the ocean at a Maui beach.
• Gas prices and rent are as high as ever.
• Hawaii’s governor and wife vacation … in Paris.

Think those are isolated incidents noticed only by a few? Not so.

Just last week, one of our most popular entertainers — Cecilio Rodriguez — was arrested in Los Angeles on charges of crimes against two children. It’s all over the news.

Meanwhile, a story by The Independent titled “America’s homeless crisis washes up in Obama’s birthplace” was picked up from New Zealand to Great Britain.

Get a load of the article’s subhead:

Some live in tents, others in cars – but Hawaii would rather their extreme poor lived on the mainland. Guy Adams reports from Honolulu on a crackdown the US doesn’t want the world to see.

One other item: Local protests are planned for the APEC summit … and paddy wagons and security cameras.

Welcome APEC!

There was some good news.

Brian Schatz says APEC beautification is still on track. Mufi Hannemann is incessantly tweeting accolades for tourism. “Hawaii 5-0” is still popular.

There were also things to celebrate in those August tourism numbers. Tourists are staying here longer and spending more per day, for example.

Air lift is expected to be increased from Asia to the islands. Currency exchanges with Australia and East Asia are favorable. Canadians love us.

But, back to those dropping arrival numbers: They are in our biggest markets, i.e., the U.S. west and the U.S. east.

Japan arrivals have dipped, too (though they’re better than expected, given the March tsunami). Just this week the Hawaii Tourism Authority replaced its long-time Japanese marketing contractor.

Hawaii wants to be at its best for the APEC summit, hosted by local boy President Barack Obama.

Let us also hope that the landfill doesn’t overflow — the one located just up the hill from the Ihilani resort at Ko Olina, where the APEC finale is set.

Sure would be a bummer to see medical syringes washing up in Ko Olina’s blue lagoons.

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