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Visitor arrivals, spending moderates

    The Hawaii Tourism Authority has set a goal to bring 8.7 million visitors to Hawaii in 2014. Beachgoers cooled off in the water off Waikiki on Friday afternoon.

Arrivals from Hawaii’s largest visitor market, the U.S. West, contracted in August ending a 20-month run of increases and causing spending from this core market to drop, too. 

The state welcomed 1.3 percent fewer travelers from its core U.S. West region and the 301,323 visitors only spent $412.7 million, which represented a 1.7 percent drop from August of 2012, according to statistics released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The drop in Hawaii’s top market was partially offset by increases in arrivals and spending from the U.S. East, Canada and emerging international visitor source markets; however, total visitor arrivals only rose 2.5 percent to 748,775 visitors in August and total spending was flat at $1.2 billion. 

"While the growth in August was not as robust as in previous months, it is important to note that due to continued efforts to increase distribution statewide, we have been successful in increasing total expenditures on the neighbor islands," said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO.

A 2.4 percent increase in U.S. East arrivals, which rose to 146,528, and spending which increased 8.9 percent to $308 million along with gains from historically less active international markets also helped bolster August results.

However, while arrivals from all other categories, which included emerging visitor source markets like China, Taiwan, Korea, Oceania, Europe and Latin America, rose 16.1 percent, the resulting 109,471 visitor count wasn’t large enough to sustain the earlier momentum that was seen in the market during the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. Similarly, combined total expenditures from these visitors only grew a lackluster 2.2 percent to $221.3 million. Canada also came in stronger; however, the 2.2 percent growth rate for arrivals only produced 27,824 visitors and the 5.8 percent rise in spending only brought $49.2 million in total expenditures to the state.

Arrivals from Japan, Hawaii’s largest international market, couldn’t stop the plateauing either because they only grew 1.8 percent to 161,731 visitors and total expenditures from this normally strong spending market dropped 5.7 percent to $255.6 million. 

Year to date, HTA reported that total visitor arrivals and spending rose 5.1 percent to nearly 5.7 million travelers and nearly $9.96 billion in overall spending. 

"As we come out of the peak summer travel season, visitor arrivals and spending for the year continue to surpass 2012," McCartney said. "We anticipate seeing a slowing in arrivals and expenditures as we enter the fall shoulder season. We will continue to monitor the fluctuating fuel costs, strengthening of the dollar against international currencies and other economic conditions, which have been impacting visitor length of stay."

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