Tourism is an important part of the Hawaii economy. In 2003 alone, according to state government data, there were over 6.4 million visitors to the Hawaiian Islands with expenditures of over $10 billion. Due to the mild year-round weather, tourist travel is popular throughout the year. The summer months and major holidays are the most popular times for outsiders to visit, however, especially when residents of the rest of the United States are looking to escape from cold, winter weather. The Japanese, with their economic and historical ties to Hawaii and the USA as well as relative geographical proximity, are also principal tourists.
Hawaii is home to numerous cultural events. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival is an international Hula competition. The state is also home to the Hawaii International Film Festival, the premier film festival for Pacific rim cinema. Honolulu is also home to the state's long running GLBT film festival, the Rainbow Film Festival.