“Hawaii’s tourism industry capped off a superb first quarter with exceptional results in March. Visitor spending increased by 12.3 percent in March, the industry’s highest monthly increase year-over-year since December 2012,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the HTA, in a written release. “Considering that Hawaii tourism has experienced five consecutive record-breaking years for visitor spending, March was a truly remarkable month and a sign the Hawaiian Islands continues to be a favorite destination for global travelers.”
The Japan market led the growth in visitor spending (up $20.8 percent to $187.2 million), driven by year-over-year increases in visitor days (up 13.1 percent), average length of stay (up 3.6 percent), and daily spending (up 6.9 percent to $228 per person).
Daily spending statewide averaged $201 per person in March 2017, up from $182 per person last year, with increases in most visitor markets.
“Through the first quarter, Hawaii visitor spending is ahead of last-year’s pace by 10.4 percent, or more than $412 million, for a total of nearly $4.4 billion,” said Szigeti. “As a result, $511.3 million has been generated in tax revenue for the State of Hawaii, a healthy increase of $48.2 million over last year.”
Visitor arrivals to Hawaii increased (up 2.1 percent to 802,802) in March 2017, with Japan again generating the highest rate of growth (up 9.1 percent to 136,735) among Hawaii’s major markets. Spending and arrivals by visitors from Japan have escalated during the first quarter of 2017 due to increased air service to Honolulu and the launch of direct service to Kona from Haneda in December.
In addition to increased arrivals by air (up 1.7 percent to 792,671), there was strong growth in arrivals by cruise ships (up 47.4 percent or 3,257 visitors) in March 2017.
Hawaii Island experienced a considerable gain in visitor spending (up 25.5 percent to $203.3 million) and double-digit growth in visitor arrivals from U.S. West, U.S. East, Japan and Canada. Both Kona and Hilo recorded higher visitation in March, as the island benefited from more direct air service from the U.S. and Japan.
More visitors went to multiple islands (up 11.6 percent) in March 2017 compared to a year ago, and each island received substantially more visitors for day-trips. The strong growth in cruise visitors contributed to these increases.
There was a small decline in total air seats ( down 0.6 percent to 1,051,552) serving the Hawaiian Islands in March 2017 compared to last year. Growth in scheduled seats from U.S. East (up 10.8 percent) and Japan (up 9.1 percent) were offset by declines from Other Asia ( down 11.2 percent), Canada (down 10 percent), Oceania (down 8.7 percent), and U.S. West (down 1.4 percent).
“The mainland U.S. continues to be our strongest market and Canada has rebounded nicely, but the resurgence of Japan is the highlight of the first quarter,” said Szigeti. “Japan’s visitor spending and arrivals are up by 19.1 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively, the highest rates of growth for Hawaii’s major markets.”