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March sees new visitor arrival, spending records

  • STAR-ADVERTISER

    Waikiki Beach in front of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel, as seen on Jan. 6. Statewide March arrivals rose 2 percent year-over-year to 802,802 visitors, who spent a healthy $1.4 billion, up 12 percent from the prior year, according to visitor data released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

A comeback from the Japan visitor market helped statewide March tourism come in like a lion.

Statewide March arrivals rose 2 percent year-over-year to 802,802 visitors, who spent a healthy $1.4 billion, up 12 percent from the prior year, according to visitor data released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Increased air service to Honolulu and the December start of direct service from Kona to Haneda continued to bolster the Japan market, which generated the highest rate of growth in March. As many as 136,735 visitors from Japan came to Hawaii in March that’s 9 percent more than the same month last year. Spending by visitors from Japan grew a staggering 21 percent year-over-year to $187.2 million.

“Considering that Hawai‘i tourism has experienced five consecutive record-breaking years for visitor spending, March was a truly remarkable month and a sign the Hawaiian Islands continues to be a favorite destination for global travelers,” HTA President and CEO George Szigeti said in a statement.

Hawaii’s largest market, the U.S.West, experienced a 1.2 percent rise in year-over-year visitor arrivals which grew in March to 320,247 visitors. March arrivals from the U.S. East, grew 4.7 percent year-over-year to 185,278 visitors. Monthly arrivals from Canada increased 4 percent to 69,469. The category called All Others, which includes Oceania, Europe, Latin America and Asian countries outside of Japan, fell 14 percent year-over-year to 80,941. March arrivals by cruise ships rose 47 percent year-over-year to 10,131. Meetings, conventions and incentives visitors increased 5 percent to 40,885 in March.

Total spending rose among all of Hawaii’s major markets except cruise ship visitors, which fell 6.5 percent to $2.5 million. Visitors from the U.S. West spent $521.2 million, a 15 percent gain over March 2016. Visitors from Hawaii’s second largest market the U.S. East spent $343.9 million, a 13 percent rise from the prior year’s March. Spending by visitors from Canada in March rose nearly 5 percent year-over-year to $138.2 million. Spending by visitors from the all others category increased 3.2 percent to $226 million.

Arrivals gains were spread across Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Kauai and Hawaii island; only Molokai experienced a decline. All of these islands experienced a year-over-year increase in March spending.

The average length of stay by visitors in Hawaii stayed flat at 8.81 days; however, gains by visitors from Japan and the category all others helped offset drops from Canadian visitors and cruise ship visitors.

Daily spending by visitors in all major markets, expect cruise ships, experienced year-over-year March gains.On average, visitors to Hawaii in March spent $201 per day, that’s up 10.2 percent from March of 2016. The average per-person trip cost to Hawaii in March was $1,768, a 10 percent year-over-year gain. Visitors from all major markets saw per trip cost increases, except Canada which was flat in March and cruise ship visitors, who experienced per-trip cost declines.

Total air seats were down a smidgen in March at 1,051,552. Growth in air seats from Japan and the U.S. East, were offset by declines from other Asia, Canada, Oceania, the U.S. West.

March results bolstered overall first quarter performance. First quarter visitor spending statewide rose 10 percent to $4.4 billion and arrivals grew 3 percent to nearly 2.3 million.

“Through the first quarter, Hawaii visitor spending is ahead of last year’s pace by 10.4 percent, or more than $412 million, for a total of nearly $4.4 billion. As a result, $511.3 million has been generated in tax revenue for the State of Hawaii, a healthy increase of $48.2 million over last year,” Szigeti said in a statement.“The first quarter exceeded our expectations for Hawaii’s tourism industry and we are cautiously optimistic this momentum can continue in the coming months.”

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