Tourism improves economic outlook for the Big Island

HILO, Hawaii (AP) – The Big Island’s economic outlook is improving thanks to the statewide tourism boom.

University of Hawaii economist Jack Suyderhoud says the tourism industry’s strength will spread to other sectors of the island’s economy.

Suyderhoud told the 39th Annual First Hawaiian Bank Business Outlook Forum on Aug. 21 that Big Island private building permits are up 25 percent in the first part of the year.

He says construction jobs are up by about 1,000. He says this makes a good dent in the 3,000 construction jobs lost after the 2008 financial crisis.

Suyderhoud says the residential real estate market is recovering, with sales climbing for three years.

In agriculture, coffee production is up slightly. Cattle ranchers are doing better as prices remain strong, but herd sizes are down because of drought.