The Hawaii Tourism Authority expects increased momentum will result in the best year-end finish for visitor arrivals and spending that the state has seen in four years.
The HTA revised during a meeting Thursday its goals for all major source markets, including the struggling Japanese market. The HTA’s new target for 2011 visitor arrivals is 7.3 million, which represents a 5.2 percent gain from the prior year. The HTA’s earlier visitor arrivals goal was set at just under 7.2 million visitors.
The new spending goal for 2011 is $12.6 billion, which represents a 10.9 percent gain over the same period in 2010. HTA’s earlier goal anticipated visitor spending would rise 5.7 percent to just more than $12 billion for the year.
The peak year for visitor arrivals in Hawaii was 2006 when a strong global economy and plenty of airline seats helped bring 7.6 million visitors to the isles, according to HTA data. Spending peaked at $12.8 billion in 2007.
Hawaii tourism dropped off substantially in 2008 after the loss of Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines. The U.S. housing bust, the Lehman Bros. collapse and the global financial meltdown took a toll on the market. Recovery seemed imminent earlier this year; however, it was disrupted in March by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Initially the board expected to see a reactionary drop, said David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management. Arrivals were expected to fall by 154,097 and spending by $250 million, Uchiyama said.
"We immediately launched a recovery plan to stabilize all markets and at a minimum maintain market share," he said.
However, the overall impact was not as great as anticipated, Uchiyama said. The new numbers are based on second-quarter market recovery, he said.
"HTA’s recovery strategy included targeting secondary cities in North America and developing countries to fill the gap," Uchiyama said. "It worked."
As a result, HTA’s new goals for its core U.S. West market include a 3 percent arrivals increase to just more than 3 million visitors and a 6.8 percent spending increase to $4.3 billion.
U.S. East arrivals are now expected to grow 2.8 percent to 1.7 million, and spending to increase by 9.9 percent to $3.2 billion.
Even Japan arrivals, which slumped in the aftermath of the country’s tragedy, are expected to increase by 3.3 percent this year to nearly 1.3 million visitors, and spending to rise by 8.2 percent to $2.1 billion.
HTA’s goals for Canada include a 12.9 percent increase in arrivals to 448,081 visitors and a 19.7 percent spending gain to $885 million.