Visitor Spending in Hawaii Up Nearly 20 Percent

Hawaii's tourism scene is continuing to improve: Total spending by visitors who came to Hawaii in January 2011 rose 19.8 percent ($194.8 million) from January 2010, to $1.2 billion, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The growth in total visitor expenditures was due to higher average daily visitor spending (+7.5 percent to $183 per person), and a 12.2 percent increase in total arrivals to 597,487 visitors. This was the eleventh consecutive month of increases in visitor spending and arrivals since March 2010.

Total arrivals by air grew 12 percent from January 2010 to 586,271 visitors. Arrivals from the top four visitor market continued to build on last year’s momentum, with double-digit growth from U.S. West (+12 percent), Japan (+18.7 percent), and Canada (+18.8 percent), while U.S. East arrivals increased 9.4 percent. Arrivals by cruise ship rose 22 percent to 11,216 visitors.

Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said that these numbers represent the ninth consecutive month of double-digit increases in overall spending, and are indicative of continued upward momentum this year. "The robust January can be partially attributed to having the Pro Bowl back in Honolulu, as well as our continued focus on driving demand and positively affecting visitor arrivals," he said.

"Key indicators in Hawaii’s tourism recovery include higher passenger loads on airplanes and the amount of air seat capacity being dedicated to the Hawaiian Islands. For example, Japan Airlines switched to using larger aircraft to keep up with travel demand, and Hawaiian Airlines added additional flights out of Osaka. On the domestic side, United Airlines announced the start of direct service to Hilo from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Alaska Airlines announced new daily service from Oakland and San Jose to Maui.

"We also saw moderate increases in meetings, conventions and incentives or MCI business travel consistent with the overall outlook for travel from this market segment. We look forward to taking advantage of rebounds in this market, as well as continued growth and interest in Hawaii as a global meetings destination as we draw closer to hosting the 2011 APEC Leaders’ Summit in November."

While McCartney called the sustained momentum "encouraging," he noted that there are still many factors that can disrupt the recovery of the state’s tourism economy. "Among the most critical are ongoing labor negotiations and the increase in fuel prices, which will have a direct impact on airfares and discretionary spending," he said. "We will continue to monitor these issues and make adjustments to help preserve the vitality of Hawaii tourism."


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