Hawaii Sees Best-Ever Visitor Spending for May

Last week, we caught up with David Uchiyama of the Hawaii Tourism Authority to discuss how increases in airlift were impacting travel to the islands. This week, we got a glimpse of what the peak season could be.

And while June's numbers won't be out for another month, if May's numbers are any indication, the prognosis looks good: Total expenditures by visitors in May of this year rose 17.5 percent compared to the previous year (or $159.3 million) to $1.1 billion, according to preliminary statistics recently released by the HTA. This was the best total expenditures on record for the month of May. There were 622,899 total visitors in May 2012, an increase of 12.5 percent from a year ago. This was also a new record in arrivals for the month of May, surpassing the previous high of 599,842 visitors in May 2007. Higher daily spending (+2.6 percent from May 2011 to $190 per person) also contributed to the record total visitor expenditures.

Mike McCartney
, president & CEO of the HTA, credited recent increases in domestic and international airlift along with major conventions, festivals and events throughout the state that helped to generate an additional $159 million in May 2012 compared to last year.

The Stats
Among the top four visitor markets (U.S. West, U.S. East, Canada and Japan), arrivals by air from U.S. West grew 8.7 percent, from May 2011, to 264,158 visitors. Total U.S. West visitor expenditures rose 15.1 percent to $383.1 million, the ninth consecutive month of growth since September 2011.

Japanese arrivals continued to recover, increasing 31.4 percent to 106,569 visitors, but remained well under the May 1997 record of 169,402 visitors. Higher daily spending (+6.6 percent to $307 per person) also helped to elevate total Japanese visitor expenditures (+36.4 percent) to $188.1 million.

U.S. East arrivals by air rose 6.8 percent to 140,739 visitors. Even though daily spending was lower (-7.2 percent to $169 per person), total U.S. East expenditures increased 3.2 percent to $243.9 million.

Canadian arrivals were comparable to May 2011 at 23,630 visitors. Despite lower daily spending (-3.6 percent to $157 per person), a longer length of stay (+6.1 percent to 11.31 days) contributed to a 2.5 percent growth in total Canadian visitor expenditures to $42 million.

Also contributing to the strong growth in May 2012 was a 55.5 percent increase in arrivals by cruise ship visitors to 7,224.

Total visitor expenditures for the first five months of 2012 grew 16.8 percent (or $841.4 million), from the same period last year, to $5.85 billion. Total arrivals increased 10 percent to 3,255,048 visitors in the first five months of 2012, with growth from all visitor markets.

Photo courtesy of HVCB and Tor Johnson