Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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Summer tourist season off to "strong start"

By Allison Schaefers


An increase in visitors from every major market in May except the U.S. East helped boost total visitor arrivals by 6.5 percent and spending by 17.4 percent.

Total visitor arrivals rose to 549,954 and spending from visitors who came by air to Hawaii increased to $860.7 million, according to data released this morning by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).

"Hawaii's tourism economy is trending forward following consecutive months of increased visitor spending and arrivals," said Mike McCartney, the HTA's president and chief executive officer.

Arrivals from Hawaii's core U.S. West visitor market rose 2.4 percent and they were up 25.6 percent from Japan, 14.6 percent in Canada and 6.5 percent from the cruise market. However, arrivals from the U.S. East market dropped 2.9 percent. As a result spending rose by double digits for all of the markets that experienced increased arrivals; however, it dropped by 3.5 percent for the U.S. East.

"Continued growth out of the international markets is encouraging," McCartney said, but added that the results are in comparison to a period of time last year when the H1N1 epidemic affected travel out of Asia.

While arrivals for the group corporate meetings market rose 44.8 percent in May and the group incentive market rose by 25.9 percent, the conventions market fell 45.7 percent in May mainly due to large drops from domestic business travelers.

"We are optimistic about the increased booking pace for the remainder of the year and anticipate seeing more corporate business out of Japan following targeted programs in this market," McCartney said.

Most of the isles saw a boost in visitor traffic in May. Total arrivals rose 5.6 percent on Oahu, 9.8 percent on Maui, 14.2 percent on Lanai, 3.9 percent on the Big Island, but fell 5.7 percent on Kauai and 1 percent on Molokai.

The data suggests that Hawaii's visitor industry is rebounding, McCartney said.

"Hawaii's peak summer travel season has gotten off to a strong start with preliminary data showing a 13.2 percent increase in air passenger arrivals for the first three weeks of June," McCartney said. "However, we are not out of the woods yet."

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