Visitors to Oahu continued to increase in September despite a crackdown on illegal vacation rentals that some economists predict will seriously hurt the island’s economy. A new law creating tougher penalties went into effect Aug. 1. According to various estimates, 7,000 to 10,000 units were operating illegally at the time.

For now, at least, the measure hasn’t led to a big drop in tourists on Oahu, although visitor spending continues to soften.

For the month of September, visitors to Oahu grew 2.3% to 463,963 over the same month a year ago, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported. The growth marked the continuation of a trend that state and local government officials have sought to manage: an ever-growing number of visitors straining the resources of a relatively small archipelago state.

Statewide, total visitor arrivals increased 3.5 % to 741,304 visitors, HTA said. Total visitor days increased 1% percent.

In addition to the continued growth in tourists, September saw the continuation of another trend: the growing numbers of tourists spending less money. For the month of September, total visitor spending statewide declined 3.9% to $1.25 billion compared to a year ago. Visitor spending on Oahu declined 4.8% to $610.1 million due to a 6.6% decline in daily spending, HTA reported.

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