Spending, visitor numbers up across state
December 29, 2010 – By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
That is far below record levels, but the November figure is an 18.8 percent improvement over the same month last year, and the year-to-date total is about 10 percent better than the slump year of 2009.
Statewide, total visitor arrivals were up 18.2 percent to 577,540 in November. For the first 11 months of the year, total arrivals rose 8.6 percent to nearly 6.5 million visitors.
The figures were released Tuesday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and gave increased evidence of a surging rebound in the visitor industry. The rest of the state’s economy is not doing so well, according to a report earlier this month by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.
However, as the largest single source of jobs, income and taxes, the visitor industry is bound to help pull the island economy up if it continues to recover.
“The numbers are looking really strong,” said Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau. “A robust industry can yield taxes and even locally grounded spending that is not just visitor spending.”
This is the trickledown effect, Vencl said, that allows people even in sectors apparently isolated from tourism to “pay their rent and bills and gas.”
Every county had double-digit increases. Visitors to Oahu were up 15.7 percent to 349,675. Kauai was up 14.6 percent to 71,961. Hawaii was up 16.4 percent to 101,510.
The total of visitor-days from January through November is 59 million.
Spending grew even faster than head count, by 30.4 percent statewide (36.7 percent on Maui island), to $976 million in November. That was an increase of $228 million over November 2009.
The increase also represented the third consecutive month that total visitor spending increased by double digits statewide.
For the first 11 months, spending totals $10.3 billion, up 16 percent.
Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Mike McCartney said Hawaii’s rate of recovery was well ahead of competing destinations, such as Mexico and the Caribbean. But the state’s tourism sector has a long way to go to offset recession-induced declines over the last two years, he added.
”This means that, more than ever, we need to continue our focused marketing efforts to maintain the momentum we’ve achieved in boosting arrivals and increasing visitor spending,” McCartney said.
Tourism authorities attributed the big rise in visitor spending in part to an 18.2 percent jump in visitor arrivals to the islands last month compared with the same month in 2009.
That included sizable increases in the number of tourists who flew to Hawaii from the West Coast and Canada last month, and also those who arrived by ship.
For example, 44 percent more Canadians and 76 percent more Japanese visited Kauai in November compared with the same month last year. About 27 percent more residents of the West Coast visited Oahu last month than a year ago.
But the total number of visitors who arrived in the islands between January and November of this year was up only 8.6 percent, compared with the same 11-month period in 2009.
Of the six Hawaiian islands the tourism report studied, visitor spending rose the most on Lanai, by 38.6 percent to $6.2 million.
Spending increased on the Big Island by 36.9 percent to $124.8 million; on Maui by 36.7 percent to $252.6 million; on Molokai by 33.5 percent to $2.5 million; on Oahu by 27.7 percent to $497.1 million; and on Kauai by 19.7 percent to $88.3 million.
* Harry Eagar can be reached at email@example.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.