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Visitor Spending in Hawaii Declined for First Half Of 2009

July 29, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox


The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), in collaboration with the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), released Hawaii’s visitor statistics for the first half of the year.

Total air visitor spending for the first half of 2009 declined 15.1 percent from year-to-date 2008, to $4.97 billion, a drop of $882.2 million. Total expenditures by visitors who came by air in the month of June 2009 was $843.9 million, down 16.1 percent to $161.6 million when compared to last June, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The drop in total visitor expenditures for June 2009 resulted from lower average daily visitor spending ($156 per person, down from $180 per person in June 2008) and a 5.2 percent decrease in visitor arrivals by air to 550,421 visitors.

Total visitor days in June 2009 fell 2.9 percent from the same month last year. The average length of stay by these visitors increased slightly to 9.85 days from 9.61 days in June 2008. Total arrivals by air decreased 5.2 percent to 550,421 visitors, continuing a decline since March 2008. No visitors came to the islands by cruise ships in both June 2009 and 2008.

Among the top four visitor markets, air arrivals from the western U.S. increased for the second consecutive month, up 4.9 percent from last June. Air arrivals from the U.S. East dropped 4 percent. Japanese air arrivals declined 32.8 percent, the largest decrease in arrivals for the Japanese market since May 2003 (-36.6%). Arrivals by air from Canada were 10.5 percent lower compared to June 2008.

“The growth in visitors from the U.S. West in June was very positive news and a result of very attractive travel packaging and increased marketing efforts in our base market,” said State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert. “The health of the visitor industry and our economy through the remainder of 2009 will depend not only on visitor arrivals, but also on visitor spending.”

“In response to the crisis facing our visitor industry, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, has allocated 86 percent of its budget to support marketing-related programs beginning in July 2009. This includes aggressive marketing campaigns to stimulate travel to Hawaii, especially from our two core markets—U.S. West and Japan,” said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii Tourism Authority. “We are optimistic by the increase in arrivals from the U.S. West for the second consecutive month. With heightened marketing efforts and scheduled blitzes on the West Coast and in the Pacific Northwest, we are hopeful that this trend will continue through the fall. In Japan, we have launched new consumer marketing campaigns to generate bookings. We have already begun to see some initial results with 23 extra flights added in July and August and eight additional flights added during ‘silver week’ in September to accommodate demand."

For the first half of 2009, total visitor days for air and cruise visitors declined 8.7 percent. Total arrivals by air and cruise fell 9.8 percent from the same period last year to 3,213,600 visitors.

Year-to-date 2009 arrivals by air totaled 3,161,873 visitors, down 9.9 percent from a year ago. Average per person per day spending declined to $165 per person compared to $178 in the first half of 2008.

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