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Visitor industry performance dampening

    Tourists enjoyed the sun at Waikiki Beach Tuesday.

Total visitor spending and arrivals simultaneously declined in October for the second month in a row; however, the year-to-date visitor industry performance remains ahead of last year. 

Total October visitor arrivals dropped 1.6 percent to 636,245 mostly due to a decline in arrivals from the U.S. and the largely domestic cruise ship market, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The numbers are in keeping with a trend line that shows that Hawaii has experienced slower growth in visitor arrivals since July 2013, the authority said. HTA president and CEO Mike McCartney said the declines experienced in September and October are expected to continue through the remainder of this year and into 2014.

“Visitors have become more conscientious of their spending as the cost of a Hawaii vacation continues to rise,” McCartney said. “This trend has caused a shortening in the average length of stay. Currency exchange rates and competitive pricing are also affecting visitor arrivals and spending and may contribute to continued declines and potentially move market share to competing destinations.”

Arrivals from Hawaii’s largest U.S. West market fell 8 percent and dropped 3.8 percent from U.S. East and 9.2 percent from cruise ships. The drop in domestic arrivals likely reflected a 4.8 percent decrease in scheduled air seats from the U.S. West and an 8.7 percent drop from the U.S. East. Also, one less cruise ship came to Hawaii in October 2013 than during the same month last year.

International arrivals rose 9.4 percent from Japan; 2.4 percent from Canada; and 5.3 percent from Europe and so-called emerging markets including: China, Korea, Taiwan and Latin America. The pickup in these markets corresponded with increased air seats. Schedules seats increased by 12.3 percent from Japan; 3.3 percent from Canada; 54.5 percent from Oceania; and 20.8 percent from Other Asia, which China, Taiwan and Korea.

Overall visitor spending also dropped in October to $1.09 billion, a 2.6 percent decline from October 2012. Total spending declines from the U.S., Japan and cruise ships, were partially offset by gains from Canada and the all other category, which includes Europe and emerging markets. However, visitors from all markets showed drops in average daily spending, which fell 1.5 percent to $195 per person.Even, the typically high-spending Japanese visitor’s daily spending dropped by 10.5 percent to $293.

Despite the dip in arrivals and spending in October, Hawaii continued to pace ahead of 2012 for the first 10 months of the year. Year-to-date visitor spending rose 3.4 percent to nearly $12.1 billion and total visitor arrivals increased 3.9 percent to nearly 6.9 million.McCartney said tourism through October contributed $1.26 billion in tax revenue for the state, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year.

“As we prepare for a potential downturn in Hawaii’s tourism economy, we continue to focus on driving demand from growing international markets to bolster a softening domestic market and maintain a sustainable tourism economy,” he said.

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