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Tourism spending, arrivals drop

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    The proliferation of home-based vacation rentals has spurred complaints from residents in Kai­lua and on the North Shore. Japa­nese tourists Makiko Yoda

Softening from Hawaii’s international markets saw January visitor arrivals and spending dip, but gains from the domestic sector helped contain the losses.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) reported on Thursday that compared to January of 2014, last month’s arrivals stayed relatively flat at 678,870. Some 4,000 fewer visitors came this January as compared to the same month in 2014. Total expenditures fell 2.5 percent to $1.4 billion. January’s average daily visitor spending also fell 3.2 percent year-over-year to $193 per person, mainly due to declines from Japan and from the category all other markets, which includes Europe, Oceania, Latin America and Asian nations outside of Japan. 

“Following three consecutive record-breaking years, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) anticipated that visitor arrivals and expenditures would begin flattening in 2015,” said Ronald Williams, HTA chief executive officer, in a statement.

Williams said a reduction in international air seats, which fell .9 percent year over year, and the continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies contributed to the slight declines. 

However, the addition of 9.2 percent more airlift from the U.S. market contributed to 3.9 percent increase in U.S. West arrivals, which reached 240,905 visitors. Spending from Hawaii’s core market also rose 3.9 percent to $422.4 million. While January spending from Hawaii’s second largest market, the U.S. East, dropped .8 percent year-over-year to $394. 6 million, arrivals rose .8 percent to 147,423 visitors. 

January arrivals from Japan, Hawaii’s largest international market, decreased 4.9 percent to 110,969 visitors. The market also experienced a 12.8 percent drop in visitor expenditures to $168.6 million.

However, the Canadian snowbird market remained strong. Expenditures by Canadian visitors rose 4.3 percent to $187.6 million, while Canadian arrivals grew 3.1 percent to 72,343 visitors. 

Arrivals from All Other markets fell 2.1 percent to 97,972 visitors. Arrivals from Oceania rose 10.2 percent from last January. However, a shift in the Lunar New Year Holiday to February in 2015 from January in 2014 contributed to 16.3 percent fewer visitors from Asian nations outside of Japan. Combined expenditures from All Other visitors decreased 11.3 percent to $216.5 million.

Some 51,419 visitors came to Hawaii in January to attend meetings, convention and incentives keeping that market flat. 

While Oahu saw its visitor spending and arrivals decline, performance rose on all other major islands, including Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii island. 

Despite January’s results, HTA projects flat or slight, year-over-year growth through 2015. However, Williams said the continually slower growth raises concerns for 2016 and onward. 

“Recognizing the cyclical pattern of the tourism industry, the HTA will continue to work with its global contractors and industry partners to address ways to sustain Hawaii’s tourism economy,” he said. 

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