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Tourist arrivals to Hawaii down in February

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 02:01 p.m. HST, Mar 27, 2014

Hawaii tourism continued moderating in February with total year-over-year arrivals dropping 4.3 percent and total visitor spending coming in flat against 2013. 

The 646,759 visitors who came to the Hawaiian Islands in February spent $1.2 billion, a .6 percent drop from February of 2013, according to statistics released on Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. 

"In the first 59 days of this year, we experienced a plateauing or leveling off of arrivals and expenditures," HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney said. 

When broken out by day, the drop across markets equate to 303 less people per day visiting the Hawaiian Islands. It also breaks down to approximately $3.30 per day less spending from each visitor and $16 less in total trip spending by each visitor, he said. Still, McCartney said that these guests to Hawaii spent $43.8 million per day, contributed $4.7 million per day to state tax revenue, and supported 175,000 jobs. 

To continue succeeding, McCartney said Hawaii's visitor industry has to "lead together with focus." 

"Right now, what I see happening is everyone is going after (his or her) piece of the pie," he said. "But how many of the people do you know that are baking pies? We've got to start baking pies. If we don't, we are in trouble. We have to work together collectively and collaboratively. In 2014, we've got to put together the team, reset and get to work." 

A key market to watch will be Hawaii's top U.S. West market since a 7.1 percent year-over-year drop in February arrivals and an 8.6 percent drop in spending strongly contributed to the overall industry decline. According to HTA, 222,879 visitors from the U.S. West came to the islands in February and spent $349.5 million. These visitor results were a continuation of the declines that became evident in the market in August 2013. 

While arrivals from Hawaii's second largest market, the U.S. East, stayed flat at 143,688 visitors, higher daily spending contributed to 6.9 percent growth in U.S. East visitor expenditures to $332.9 million.

Arrivals from Japan, Hawaii's largest international market, were flat at 119,882 visitors; however, spending fell 5.2 percent to $195.7 million 

Canadian arrivals increased by 1.4 percent to 66,233 visitors and spending increased 2.3 percent to $140 million.

Arrivals from the All Other markets category, which Oceania, Asian nations outside of Japan, and emerging markets like Europe and Latin America, decreased 3.3 percent to 78,249 visitors. However, expenditures from these markets rose 7.6 percent to $195 million. Likewise, arrivals by cruise ships fell 37.8 percent to 15,828 visitors in February and spending dropped 36.6 percent to $4.6 million. 

While a primary HTA goal is to strengthen tourism by spreading gains across all islands, there were fewer visitors on every island except Molokai as compared to last February. Also, air seats to the Hawaiian Islands remained virtually unchanged from a year ago at 847,238 seats. While scheduled air seats in February saw a 1.7 percent year-over-year increase to 841,536, there were fewer international charters. 

February's visitor declines contributed to year-to-date drops in both spending and arrivals. Year-to-date visitor spending fell 2.8 percent to $2.6 billion and total arrivals decreased 2.1 percent to 1.3 million visitors.

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kauai wrote:
This is why we need to diversify our economy and not put all our "eggs" in the tourism basket. Where are our elected officials and what are they doing about this issue? Where's the leadership? Where's the vision? The politicians should be looking at the long-term and big picture, instead of just the next election cycle.
on March 27,2014 | 11:24AM
Grimbold wrote:
How can we diversify? Commercial property rents are sky high, wages are high , real estate costs are high, transportation cost is high, local taxes are high, the local market is small. What smart business entrepreneur would invest here instead on the mainland? When people wise up one day and notice their skin-cancer from our strong sun, less will come.
on March 27,2014 | 11:30AM
kauai wrote:
So, do nothing? Just throw up your hands and say "eh, no can help"? Wonderful response, typically local (and yes, I am a local).
on March 27,2014 | 11:38AM
rytsuru wrote:
All true Grimbold...unfortunately.
on March 27,2014 | 11:48AM
inlanikai wrote:
How about we find out why the tourists are not coming and address those reasons that we control. It's all on the margin and lots of little things like: homeless on the streets, overall cleanliness, high inter island air fares, occupancy taxes, traffic jams, paving over paradise and on and on. Let's not point the finger outward at exchange rates (which don't affect west coast mainlanders), and the economy, and competition from other destinations. They may have some effect but that's not the whole story. Hawaii has for too long taken the tourist for granted and the allure of Hawaii is becoming more transparent and starting to lose some of its luster.
on March 27,2014 | 01:40PM
false wrote:
Didn't we once hear some campaign promise about making Hawaii the leader of technology in the pacific; the hub for medical research etc. It has been the same old same old. Time for some newly elected legislators and a Gov.? Who knows but we are getting anywhere. Hawaii voters once again have the opportunity to choose elected officials. Will we have the guts? History tells me not. Same old same old. Another thing with the cost for a tourist, air fares, hotels, food, etc. that may be another factor.
on March 27,2014 | 01:20PM
NoFire wrote:
I have heard many people say they will not return due to all of the drunks and druggies that inhabit the sidewalks in Waikiki.
on March 27,2014 | 11:31AM
bobstr wrote:
i don't think that's the problem, it's Roberts putting bus loads of tourists into places where they can't be supported and the people from the main land don't want to go to beaches that are standing room only.
on March 27,2014 | 01:01PM
control wrote:
price gouging and greed are keeping people away.
on March 27,2014 | 11:35AM
inverse wrote:
that and overdevelopment. The destruction of Kings Alley and the Waikiki Marketplace was especially bad for the visitors that visit Hawaii on a regular basis. Add the train to nowhere that and extended delays for road construction that is causing massive gridlock traffic, developement by OHA and others on beachfront property, superskyscrapers in Kakaako, etc. etc that are forcing gov't to try to continue to raise taxes and make visiting/living in Hawaii much more EXPENSIVE. Also the homeless and vagrants have taken over most City and State parks and beaches and safety is a big issue with brazen robberies that have resulted in Death (the 50 yr old woman whose purse was snatched). Out of control prost itution clearly visible in Waikiki and elsewhere with HPD fighting for officers to LEGALLY pe netrate these females that might be underage or trafficked against their will, etc. and all they want and many residents is RESPONSIBLE development on Oahu with attention to traditional places in Hawaii to hang out and visit annually, to be SAFE, to not be in traffic gridlock when it could have been avoided and not be taxed and ripped off because of the continuous pressure to pay for projects like rail, the Health connector, etc. etc. Also they would want to have a safe LEGAL place to gamble, like a casino deep within the Hawaii Convention center, if that is their interest.
on March 27,2014 | 11:55AM
what wrote:
The government doesn't think so. They voted to keep the hotel tax at nearly 20% even though it was supposed to sunet. They think tourists don't notice that huge tax charge when they check out of the hotel. And when they get to the airport and look at their rental carbill, they see ridiculous car rental taxes and fees.
on March 27,2014 | 01:30PM
Skyler wrote:
Can't really blame them. They hear of attitude, get their rentals smashed, and generally get gouged all the way around - from the inflated food costs to the made-in-china or somewhere else trinkets sold as souvenirs.
on March 27,2014 | 12:05PM
South76 wrote:
The military cutting down spending in the islands and less tourist coming to the islands...wow double whammy. Better hold on to your wallet folks as less taxes will be flowing into the government coffers, the clowns at the square building will be knocking on your door for more of your hard earned money to support pay raises for the lazy government unions and to shore up social spending for the freeloaders.....
on March 27,2014 | 12:16PM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 27,2014 | 12:16PM
false wrote:
Thanks to the unions!!
on March 27,2014 | 01:23PM
kdang99 wrote:
Let's not forget the cost of flying to Hawaii. The airfare is ridiculously expensive and that I think is a major source of the problem that I don't hear people talk about much.
on March 27,2014 | 12:42PM
steveoctober wrote:
agreed. prices have gone up considerably over the past two years. often it's hard to get multiple seats on a short notice flight altogether. have to plan way out ahead, which many who work for a living don't like to or just can't do because of the greater period of unpredictable personal events happening. so they just end up going elsewhere for cheaper. even asia, many destinations once you figure it all out are cheaper and way more exciting. who wants to spend thousands just to see the same type of stores, the same type of restaurants that they have at home.
on March 27,2014 | 01:32PM
Skyler wrote:
Yeah, you're right. Even we live here & you'd think we'd get a small break on the price but nooooo... can't do that. No 'kama'aina discount' for us.
on March 27,2014 | 07:25PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Prior to, during and after the APEC meeting in Honolulu in November 2011, city and state political leaders and HTA officials claimed the meeting would generate more than $100 million in economic activity for the state. It was their justification for the city and state spending many millions of dollars to get and host the meeting. It has been more than two years since the meeting was held. When will we see the millions of dollars APEC was suppose to generate?
on March 27,2014 | 12:54PM
paniolo wrote:
1-Expensive; 2-Bad roads; 3-Bad drivers; 4-Bad traffic; 5-Homeless everywhere; 6-Easy target for criminals; etc., etc., etc.
on March 27,2014 | 12:56PM
primowarrior wrote:
Airfares seem to have gone up quite a bit. Seems like not too long ago, a roundtrip between here and the West Coast cost around $400 on Hawaiian Air. Now, more like about $600. Of course, "not too long ago" at my age could very well be long ago.
on March 27,2014 | 01:11PM
fishnfool wrote:
No you're not wrong Primo. Airfares to/ from the West coast are ridiculous. I used to buy a month or two in advance and was used to getting fares in the low $400 range for round trip tickets. Not this year. Hawaiian sets the fares nowadays and the other airlines just follow their lead. This year I don't see fares from the West Coast for less than $550-700 bucks. Add $25 bucks per luggage piece and no wonder Hawaiian can afford to expand loser routes like Japan,Korea and China and still show record profits. So tell me how you fly a family of 4,5 or 6 over here with fares like that? Throw in the rental car ripoff fees, traffic nightmares with dumb moves like closing down 3 lanes of the H-1 during daylight hours, bums hitting on tourists and soiling the streets, stinkeye from locals, predatory taxes from a union owned Dema-Rat legislature that only knows how to raise taxes and never can quite manage to live within its means. Toss in brand new TOT taxes on timeshares, new electricity surcharges on hotel bills and I wonder what happened to the Hawaii I used to know. And what gets me is the attitude from the kamaaina that : Oh well, this is Hawaii..they'll always come here first. Sorry dudes, but If you have a provincial attitude like that you just have never been anywhere else. There'res lots of places that offer beauty and scenery that can match Hawaii. Seems to me if you want tourists to come you have to get them here first. That's the airfare problem. After that you can work on all the other problems-or more likely just continue the status quo and pick the pockets of the folks until they wise up and quit coming.
on March 27,2014 | 05:35PM
frontman wrote:
But .... But ..... the master obama says things are just fine.
on March 27,2014 | 01:12PM
PoiDoggy wrote:
Actually, he doesn't.
on March 27,2014 | 03:31PM
false wrote:
Abercrimbie also said that.
on March 27,2014 | 03:35PM
wave1 wrote:
Agree with all comments as to why tourist are not coming to Hawaii. Waikiki is a mess. I have some family coming in a few weeks. They will stay up on the North Shore (in a legal hotel- will not support illegal vacation rentals). We will not go to Waikiki. A few years ago they would like to stay a few days at Waikiki- not now. I myself consider cashing out here in hawaii, and moving to a $150,000 dollar farm some place in the mid-west.- A cheap place to raise a family. So we may miss the ocean and the beach. But the ocean is getting trashed and the beaches turing into sea walls.
on March 27,2014 | 01:13PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Even tourists know that hanging out in tourist's spots cost more. I don't go to Haleiwa anymore because it is now a tourist mecca just like Waikiki.
on March 27,2014 | 01:24PM
Sundog06 wrote:
I feel the decrease is due to airfares from the airlines. The prices are extremely high and families are finding cheaper and closer places to visit.
on March 27,2014 | 01:28PM
Ronin006 wrote:
HTA reported that air seats to the Hawaiian Islands remained virtually unchanged from a year ago at 847,238 seats and that while scheduled air seats in February saw a 1.7 percent year-over-year increase to 841,536, there were fewer international charters. Who are they trying to fool?
on March 27,2014 | 06:11PM
Ronin006 wrote:
What they are saying is gobbledygook. The total number of air seats equals the number of passenger seats on all aircraft flying to Hawaii including EMPTY seats. It means nothing.
on March 27,2014 | 06:14PM
Ronin006 wrote:
What they are saying makes no sense. The total number of air seats equals the number of passenger seats on all aircraft flying to Hawaii including EMPTY seats. It means nothing. What we need to know is how many people were sitting in those seats during the comparable periods. Why can’t that be reported?
on March 27,2014 | 06:16PM
bpet wrote:
Sorry everyone . . .I do the best I can to support the economy of Oahu when I visit several (four) times a year . . .I will try harder . . .Seriously, when I tell folks how many times I visit 'paradise' every year their response is "But it is so expensive" . . .my response is that "it is as expensive as you want to make it" . . . It is true that there is a price to be paid for visitors to enjoy visiting the islands, but for me, it is still the best and in the long run, the most affordable destination. It is sad to see those areas such as the International Marketplace and next, King's Village to go the way of big corporate entities . . .it will make Waikiki less attractive and more like many other big cities "with a beach" . . .those areas were unique for us (visitors) and I suspect the loss of old Hawaiian charm may make a difference to many when choosing where to spend their holiday funds.
on March 27,2014 | 01:35PM
RKC808 wrote:
To sum it up in one word. G R E E D is it. You can thank the politicians and law makers. Been even hearing the Mayor with his"it's only a dollar" more speeches for a few months now. Yeah, a dollar here and a dollar there and a dollar over there and a dollar over here all adds up. Unfortunately, we got what we deserved. The middle class is dwndling every year until the day will come when there's only going to be the rich and the poor. Im glad I wont be here a hundred years from now. It's sick just imagining what living here will be like. This place is a rip off for tourists and they are sick of it too. On top of all this, the traffic and overdevelopment on Oahu is terrible and the people of Oahu are paying the price. So sad to witness this as a kamaaina who was born and raised here.
on March 27,2014 | 01:52PM
wave1 wrote:
I am taking a trip this summer with some family from East Coast of US. We will be taking a cruise to Bermuda. Bermuda does not look any more expensive than Hawaii and I'll bet a lot fewer pan handlers there as well. BTW, how do places like Bermuda prevent the residents from turuning into pan handlers? Do they give them one way tickets to Hawaii?
on March 27,2014 | 02:17PM
Tony91 wrote:
It’s funny to read all of these people blame airfare. Do these people realize that even at $600 round trip, tickets are incredibly cheap. 25 years ago, in both real and inflation adjusted dollars, tickets to Hawaii were more expensive. How many things can you think of today that have not changed in price?
on March 27,2014 | 02:20PM
MIsnowbirds wrote:
Airfare is a huge expense for us. It's been $1190 pp/rt for more than a year now...except for when it hit $1240 in early Jan. We like to stay for 3 weeks in a condo and can cut corners to enjoy our stay...but it is getting more and more cost prohibitive for us to make a yearly winter escape to our favorite place. The car rentals have more than doubled since we first started going in "05...just so many things that make it an expensive trip. We had to pass this year...hoping we can get to Oahu in 2015.
on March 27,2014 | 03:45PM
AniMatsuri wrote:
What? After gay marriage was passed aren't people supposed to be flocking here now? That's why the Gov. gave the Pro Bowl such a cold shoulder.
on March 27,2014 | 03:07PM
false wrote:
Yeah, i thought the gov. said it would bring in millions.
on March 27,2014 | 03:36PM
medigogo wrote:
Exactly what i'm wondering. Is there a tally by our talented UH researchers on the actual gay weddings from out of state that brought in huge family groups like they predicted before?
on March 27,2014 | 04:02PM
hawaiiwalter wrote:
Do you think that people have forgotten how the Catholic church did everything they could to stop marriage equality? They brought their screaming senior citizen sign-wavers in by the busloads to protest. They poisoned any good will that was there. Gay people don't want to go where there is so much hate. There are too many other places where gay folks are welcome.
on March 27,2014 | 04:15PM
kekelaward wrote:
Oh, yeah.
on March 27,2014 | 04:41PM
fishnfool wrote:
on March 27,2014 | 05:38PM
Skyler wrote:
There's just not that many to make a difference.
on March 27,2014 | 07:29PM
Ichigo wrote:
Many tourists do NOT feel welcome in Hawaii. Just read some of the comments from locals even about restaurant reviews, etc. Too many tourists, this is too touristy, that is too touristy. Blah blah blah -- things like "we never go to Waikiki its too full of tourists." Also how do you think tourists feel when they see all these ads for prices for tourists along with the lower prices that are for residents of Hawaii ONLY -- these are for restaurants, hotels, museums and various local attractions. We have traveled all over the U.S. and the world and have never seen discriminatory pricing like this advertised in of all places, publications that are directed at tourists. Go ahead and rub it in their faces that not only did they have to pay to get here but they have to pay taxes upon taxes upon taxes (look at a rental bill or hotel bill) and then on TOP of that they see that they are actually paying HIGHER prices for other things because they are guests here.
on March 27,2014 | 03:23PM
fishnfool wrote:
Good point. I have noticed the trend too. Itt's just a stupid practice. It also promotes the "them" and "us" attitude so prevalent over here already. Nothing like letting visitors know they're getting screwed right up front the old fashioned way.
on March 27,2014 | 05:44PM
bleedgreen wrote:
There are many reasons. Solutions are not so simplistic and the industry must be examined to match domestic and international markets to Hawaii's assets, as well as its shortcomings.
on March 27,2014 | 03:26PM
vankuren50 wrote:
I'm Hawaii born and raised but after my last trip home other than family everything else was bad. Higher cost for everything. Food, shopping, water. Saw all the homeless and prostitutes in Waikiki, Ala Moana. The Hawaii I grew up in and loved is gone. To much greed on the part of the politicians and unions. No leadership. Hawaii state government won't make the hard decisions. One night I sat in eatery and listened to some people talking about how this was one of the worst trips they had taken to Hawaii and how it had changed for the worst and they would not come back anymore. They talked about how Bermuda was better and cheaper and even cleaner than Oahu. So our beautiful island has become like the new "Third world country" of the Pacific. So if the politicians want to know why tourism is dying tell them look in the mirror and blame that person because they destroyed what was paradise on God's earth.
on March 27,2014 | 04:22PM
Dtab wrote:
Prices are rediculous, that's why no staycation for me, i would rather go mainland and spend the sameamount for one week there than one night here!, and then some! I'm just drinking my Bud Platinum and kick back in my own backyard and save up for next year!
on March 27,2014 | 05:57PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Third comment today sent for approval, and the censorship editor at the Star-Advertiser says I am not being targeted. Here is the comment: “HTA reported that air seats to the Hawaiian Islands remained virtually unchanged from a year ago at 847,238 seats and that while scheduled air seats in February saw a 1.7 percent year-over-year increase to 841,536, there were fewer international charters. Who are they trying to fool? What they are saying is gobbledygook. The total number of air seats equals the number of passenger seats on all aircraft flying to Hawaii including EMPTY seats. It means nothing. What we need to know is how many people were sitting in those seats during the comparable periods. Why can’t that be reported?” Who did I offend this time?
on March 27,2014 | 06:10PM
Ronin006 wrote:
. The total number of air seats equals the number of passenger seats on all aircraft flying to Hawaii including EMPTY seats. It means nothing. What we need to know is how many people were sitting in those seats during the comparable periods. Why can’t that be reported?
on March 27,2014 | 06:16PM
TigerEye wrote:
"...303 less people per day..." Really, Star-Advertiser? Less people?
on March 28,2014 | 02:08PM
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