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Tourist arrivals to Hawaii down in February

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Hawaii tourism continued moderating in February with total year-over-year arrivals dropping 4.3 percent and total visitor spending coming in flat against 2013. 

The 646,759 visitors who came to the Hawaiian Islands in February spent $1.2 billion, a .6 percent drop from February of 2013, according to statistics released on Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. 

"In the first 59 days of this year, we experienced a plateauing or leveling off of arrivals and expenditures," HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney said. 

When broken out by day, the drop across markets equate to 303 less people per day visiting the Hawaiian Islands. It also breaks down to approximately $3.30 per day less spending from each visitor and $16 less in total trip spending by each visitor, he said. Still, McCartney said that these guests to Hawaii spent $43.8 million per day, contributed $4.7 million per day to state tax revenue, and supported 175,000 jobs. 

To continue succeeding, McCartney said Hawaii’s visitor industry has to "lead together with focus." 

"Right now, what I see happening is everyone is going after (his or her) piece of the pie," he said. "But how many of the people do you know that are baking pies? We’ve got to start baking pies. If we don’t, we are in trouble. We have to work together collectively and collaboratively. In 2014, we’ve got to put together the team, reset and get to work." 

A key market to watch will be Hawaii’s top U.S. West market since a 7.1 percent year-over-year drop in February arrivals and an 8.6 percent drop in spending strongly contributed to the overall industry decline. According to HTA, 222,879 visitors from the U.S. West came to the islands in February and spent $349.5 million. These visitor results were a continuation of the declines that became evident in the market in August 2013. 

While arrivals from Hawaii’s second largest market, the U.S. East, stayed flat at 143,688 visitors, higher daily spending contributed to 6.9 percent growth in U.S. East visitor expenditures to $332.9 million.

Arrivals from Japan, Hawaii’s largest international market, were flat at 119,882 visitors; however, spending fell 5.2 percent to $195.7 million 

Canadian arrivals increased by 1.4 percent to 66,233 visitors and spending increased 2.3 percent to $140 million.

Arrivals from the All Other markets category, which Oceania, Asian nations outside of Japan, and emerging markets like Europe and Latin America, decreased 3.3 percent to 78,249 visitors. However, expenditures from these markets rose 7.6 percent to $195 million. Likewise, arrivals by cruise ships fell 37.8 percent to 15,828 visitors in February and spending dropped 36.6 percent to $4.6 million. 

While a primary HTA goal is to strengthen tourism by spreading gains across all islands, there were fewer visitors on every island except Molokai as compared to last February. Also, air seats to the Hawaiian Islands remained virtually unchanged from a year ago at 847,238 seats. While scheduled air seats in February saw a 1.7 percent year-over-year increase to 841,536, there were fewer international charters. 

February’s visitor declines contributed to year-to-date drops in both spending and arrivals. Year-to-date visitor spending fell 2.8 percent to $2.6 billion and total arrivals decreased 2.1 percent to 1.3 million visitors.

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