Positive New Tourism Statistics Report

Tourism rebound apparent in report

Through September, county head count, spending up from 2009

November 5, 2010 – By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer of the Maui News
In a further signal that Hawaii’s visitor industry is rebounding, spending in September statewide jumped 22.2 percent compared to the same month last year to $880.2 million, well above the 13.7 percent gain for the first nine months of the year.

Arrivals are up, too, but not nearly as much. Statewide, 528,304 people arrived by air in September, a gain of 8.9 percent from September 2009.

Maui County leads the state in growth in both head count and spending, with spending up 18.8 percent compared to the same period to $2.2 billion through three quarters.

Per person per day spending, which was $189 (not including airfares) in 2007, is at $177.40 for Maui island for the first nine months of this year.

So far this year, Maui County has welcomed 1,657,935 visitors, up 8.5 percent. In September, the three islands welcomed 161,482 visitors, up 12.6 percent.

September is typically just about the slowest period of the year for tourism.

Marsha Wienert, the state tourism liaison, said: “It’s particularly significant that the Neighbor Islands are experiencing improvements in visitor arrivals and visitor spending.

“Increased air seats into these islands have helped to bring more visitors from the Mainland, which is boosting visitor spending.”

In September, statewide arrivals from western states and Canada, both strong Maui markets, were up 13.5 percent and 13.3 percent, respectively.

Arrivals of visitors from Japan, who concentrate on Oahu, were down 0.4 percent.

Maui County, which was especially hard hit in May 2008 because it depended proportionally more on the shuttered Aloha and ATA airlines has now apparently regained the momentum it had before the visitor industry slide began.

Oahu is ahead 6.5 percent in head count through three quarters, with 3,244,867 visitors. In September, it was up 5.4 percent to 345,365, less than half Maui’s rate.

The other Neighbor Islands, which have trailed Maui in recovery by most measures, including hotel occupancy rates, showed smaller gains. In September, Kauai was up 3 percent to 73,621 visitor arrivals; the Big Island was up 8.8 percent to 92,214, but since it has lost direct service from Japan to Kona, it probably will not do as well again this year.

For the nine months, Kauai is up 2.6 percent to 732,871; the Big Island is up 4.6 percent to 969,754.

Spending trends are similar. This year, visitors have left $4.2 billion on Oahu, up 11.4 percent; $838 million on Kauai, up 10.8 percent; and $1 billion on the Big Island, up 15.6 percent.

Average length-of-stay, which has been declining for many years, shows slight gains this year.

For all visitors, it is up 0.4 percent to 7.97 days on Maui, highest in the state, followed by 7.45 days on Kauai, up 1.4 percent; 7.4 days on Oahu, up 1.6 percent; and 6.98 days on Hawaii, up 1.2 percent.

Oahu’s overall average is pulled down by its greater proportion of foreign visitors, who don’t stay as long. Counting only American visitors, the two destinations are very close, 7.97 days on Oahu and 8.04 on Maui island.

* Harry Eagar can be reached at heagar@mauinews.com.