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Visitor arrivals up, but spending continues declining

    Statewide occupancy fell to 77.5 percent in January

Although visitor arrivals came back in February, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported on Wednesday that total visitor spending continued trending downward dropping by 4.3 percent to $1.2 billion. 

Total visitor arrivals to Hawaii rose 2.3 percent year-over-year to 661,747 visitors, according to preliminary statistics released by Hawaii Tourism Authority. That was partially due to 4.9 percent more air seats, which rose to 888,9444.

“Even though expenditures were down, we were still busier than we were at this time last year,” said Daniel Nahoopii, HTA’s director of tourism research. 

The mix of visitors contributed to the spending declines. There were 8.8 percent more from the lower spending U.S. West, Hawaii’s core visitor market,  and 3.4 fewer visitor expenditures from the higher spending U.S. East market, and 3.5 percent fewer from the higher spending Japan market, which is Hawaii’s largest international market. Drops in spending from these important markets could not be offset by gains from other international visitor source markets, most which were negatively impacted by the strengthening of the U.S. dollar.  As a result, average daily spending dropped by 6.4 percent to $194 per person. 

The Canadian snowbird visitor population, which tends to make long winter stays in Hawaii, also declined 1.5 percent.  But, there was a 13.1 percent rise in visitor arrivals from the visitor category all other visitors, which includes visitors from Oceania, Europe, Latin America and Asian nations outside of Japan. 

“In order to offset fluctuating exchange rates, the HTA is working with its global contractors to implement innovative and collaborative campaigns, including major in-market branding and mileage promotions, in an effort to help sustain airlift and arrivals to the Hawaiian Islands,” said Ronald Williams, HTA chief executive officer. 

For the first two months of 2015, there were 1,340,617 visitors, which was .8 percent higher than the same period in 2014. However, total year-to-date visitor expenditures fell 3.3 percent to $2.6 billion. The year-to-date results fell short of the performance goals for 2015 that HTA set last month. 

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