In April, total visitor arrivals to the Hawaiian Islands increased 3.4 percent from a year ago to 700,573 visitors, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). Total visitor days rose 1.8 percent compared to April 2015.
“Hawaii attracted its most visitors ever in April, primarily due to a convergence of two events that fell in our favor," said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), in a written statement. "The rescheduling of some cruises to arrive in April brought in an influx of visitors that would not have occurred otherwise, and we realized a spike in visitors from Japan the last week of April for the start of the 'Golden Week' holidays."
The growth in visitor arrivals in April was boosted by international visitors arriving by air (up six percent to 218,487) and from visitors who came on cruise ships (up 85.3 percent to 22,902). Partially contributing to the growth in cruise visitors was a shift in ship schedules, as several ships that came in March and May of 2015 switched to an April itinerary in 2016.
“For the first time in nearly two years, monthly visitor arrivals from our largest market, the U.S. West, did not surpass the previous year’s total in April," said Szigeti. "Arrivals from our second largest market, the U.S. East, also came in behind last year’s total for the first time in six months. Fortunately, these results were offset by the strong showing from our other international markets, which doesn’t include Japan or Canada."
Visitor arrivals by air increased (up 1.8 percent to 677,671), driven by growth in Japanese visitors (up 4.5 percent to 100,512) many of whom came during the last week of April 2016 for Golden Week. Arrivals from other international markets (up 14.3 percent to 108,106) also increased compared to April 2015. However, there was no growth in arrivals from U.S. West (down 0.5 percent to 294,264) and U.S. East ( down 0.2 percent to 133,262), and arrivals from Canada declined (down 8.6 percent to 41,527).
Lower average daily spending (down 2.8 percent to $191 per person) in April 2016 resulted in a drop in total visitor expenditures (down 1.1 percent to $1.1 billion). Visitor expenditures declined from Canada (down 15.5 percent to $74.4 million) and from other international markets (down 7.1 percent to $241.2 million). For the Japan market, although daily spending was down (down 5.3 percent) in April 2016, growth in arrivals boosted visitor expenditures (up 3.6 percent to $138.2 million).
Higher daily spending among U.S. East visitors (up 8.7 percent) contributed to a gain in visitor expenditures (up 6.8 percent to $265.5 million) in April 2016. Daily spending by U.S. West visitors in April was comparable (up 0.5 percent) to last year, but visitor expenditures declined (down 1.5 percent to $417.7 million).
Among the four larger Hawaiian Islands, visitor arrivals increased for Oahu (up two percent) and Maui (up 4.5 percent) but visitor expenditures declined for Oahu (down 5.8 percent) and Maui (down 2.8 percent) in April 2016 compared to last year. Hawaii Island had a small growth in arrivals (up 0.8 percent) but a notable gain in visitor expenditures (up 13.1 percent). Arrivals to Kauai were unchanged while visitor expenditures increased (up 6.2 percent) in April year-over-year.
Growth in total air seats to the Hawaiian Islands in April 2016 was flat (down 0.5 percent to 975,737) compared to last year. Declines in scheduled seats from Japan (down 6.8 percent), Canada (down two percent) and U.S. West (down 1.2 percent) offset increases from "Other Asia" markets (up 26.9 percent) and Oceania (up 9.1 percent).
“The visitor statistics year-to-date show that Hawaii remains ahead of last year’s record-setting pace for both arrivals and expenditures," said Szigeti. "This is encouraging news for our tourism industry and conveys the enduring appeal of the Hawaii brand to travelers worldwide.”