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Tourism slows as visitor arrivals and spending down

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 1:52 p.m. HST, Apr 28, 2014

Declines in March visitor arrivals and spending contributed to first quarter tourism slowdown. 

Total expenditures by visitors who came to Hawaii in March fell 3.5 percent year-over-year to $1.2 billion and total arrivals declined 5.2 percent year-over-year to 728,814 visitors, according to preliminary statistics released on Monday by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority. The monthly softening caused first quarter visitor spending to drop 3.1 percent year-over-year to $3.8 billion and total arrivals to fall 3.2 percent year-over-year to 2,058,207 visitors.

"Following two record-breaking years in visitor spending and arrivals, we anticipated a slowdown in growth this year," said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. "While the outlook for the summer remains strong, we expect the fall shoulder period to be challenging, with increased competition, a strengthening U.S. dollar and increased taxes."

Continued losses from Hawaii's core U.S. West market, which has been posting year-over-year losses since August, were a major factor in the new reductions. March arrivals by air from U.S. West visitors dipped 9.2 percent to 268,236 visitors partially due to the Easter/spring break holiday occurring in April this year as opposed to March last year. At the same time, U.S. West visitor spending plummeted 14 percent to $378.9 million in March 2014. 

The U.S. West slump was so steep in March that it couldn't be offset by a 7.5 percent rise in U.S. East visitor spending, which rose to $317.4 million, or a .2 percent gain in visitors, which increased to 165,745. Likewise, arrivals from Japan, Hawaii's top international market, only rose 2 percent to 130,565 in March, and spending stayed flat at $204.4 million. And, while March arrivals from Canada were flat at 74,054 visitors, spending from the market dropped 5.9 percent to $136.2 million. 

The small but lucrative all other markets, which includes Asian countries outside of Japan, Latin America, Oceania and Europe, saw March arrivals decrease 4.5 percent to 79,622 visitors. However, higher daily spending contributed to a 4.6 percent rise in expenditures to $190.9 million. Arrivals by cruise ships fell 52.7 percent to 10,592 visitors in March 2014.

Air seats rose 1.5 percent from March 2013 to 982,885 during March 2014. 

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