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Visitor arrivals from mainland markets continue to fall

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 10:58 a.m. HST, Sep 22, 2011

Although international arrivals to Hawaii were stronger in August, dwindling visitor counts from the state's core U.S. travel markets continued an essentially three-month pattern of falling visitor arrivals and rising spending.

Total visitor arrivals to Hawaii fell 4.2 percent as arrivals from Hawaii's top U.S. West and U.S. East markets fell for the third month in a row, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said today.  However, total visitor spending increased by 2.3 percent as visitors from higher spending international markets, especially Canada and Japan, took advantage of favorable exchange rates and bolstered island economies.

The $24.5 million gain in visitor spending represented the 16th consecutive month of increased visitor spending, HTA officials said. The 651,529 visitors that came to Hawaii in August spent a total of $1.08 billion. Average daily spending among these visitors rose by $11 to $179 per day.

Despite the decline in visitor arrivals for August, total arrivals and spending for all of 2011 is outperforming the same period in 2010, said HTA President and Chief Executive Mike McCartney.

"We remain confident that the projected increases for the remainder of the year will help Hawaii achieve our 2011 targets," McCartney said.

The HTA expects that anticipated increases in airlift from Korea, Japan, China and Australia will bring more visitors in Hawaii through 2012 and that favorable exchange rates will keep them spending more, he said.

Year-over-year arrivals from Canada in August rose 15.7 percent, which was the fourteenth double-digit increase for that market. The 2.6 percent year-over-year drop in arrivals from Japan was the smallest decrease Hawaii has experienced since the country's tragic March 11 tsunami and earthquake.

More worrisome was the August performance of Hawaii's domestic market. Arrivals from Hawaii's core U.S. West market experienced a year-over-year decline of 10 percent, the largest drop since March 2009. U.S. East arrivals also plummeted by 6.9 percent from a year ago.

Spending by visitors from Canada in August rose by 30.1 percent, spending by Japan visitors rose by 4.9 percent. Meanwhile, spending from U.S. West tourists rose by 7.6 percent and U.S. East visitors spent 8.6 percent more.

For the first eight months of the year, overall visitor spending was up 14.1 percent to $8.25 billion and total arrivals grew by 2.5 percent to about 4.88 million visitors, according to the HTA.

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