Hawaii Tourism Dip Continues Through March

Tourism to Hawaii continues to weaken as arrivals to the island state fell 16.6 percent in March compared to one year ago, and arrivals for the first quarter fell 14 percent from nearly 1.9 million to 1.6 million, according to state figures released Tuesday. The 555,902 arrivals in March 2009 were down from 666,167 in March 2008 and although the average length of stay was solid at nearly nine days, tourists spent nearly 10 percent less.

Total spending by visitors arriving by airplane fell 258.4 million to $800.1 million in March, a decrease of about 24 percent. The average tourist spent $163 a day, which is down from $180 in March 2008.

Oahu fared the best a decline of 16.3 percent to 327,357. The smallest islands of Molokai (36.2) and Lanai (30) had the sharpest declines, followed by Maui (25.8), Kauai (24.7) and the Big Island (17.7).

The islands, in particular Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, were hurt by the loss of the Pride of Aloha, which was taken out of Hawaii's interisland market by Norwegian Cruise Lines in May 2008 and renamed the Norwegian Sky for service in the Bahamas. More than a third of the decline in arrivals on the Big Island and Kauai can be attributed to fewer cruise ship passengers.

While visitors from the East Coast decreased 20 percent, and the number of Californians traveling to the islands plummeted by 36 percent, contributing to the 25 percent drop from the West Coast, arrivals from Japan increased slightly by 0.6 percent, in part because of the strength of the yen.

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