The tourism juggernaut continued in March, which was another month of double-digit gains in visitor arrivals and spending.
Last month, some 903,550 tourists, nearly 13 percent more than came to Hawaii in March of 2017, visited the Hawaiian islands. Spending by these visitors climbed nearly 14 percent to $1.6 billion, according to preliminary visitor data released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) today.
A shift in this year’s Easter holiday schedule to March instead of April accounted for some of the year-over-year gains. The results also correlated to a nearly 12 percent rise in trans-Pacific air seats, which totaled nearly 1.2 million last month.
“That rate of growth is phenomenal and is not only providing visitors with more travel options to vacation in Hawaii but also giving our residents more choices when making trips to either side of the Pacific,” said HTA President and CEO George D. Szigeti in a statement.
March spending and arrivals rose in all major markets including the U.S. West, the U.S. East, Japan, Canada, cruise ships and the category all others, which includes international markets outside of Japan and Canada. The gains spread across Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Kauai and Hawaii island, but Molokai saw declines.
First quarter spending and arrivals each climbed about 10 percent to nearly 2.5 million visitors who spent more than $4.8 billion. Quarterly spending increased in every major market except cruise ships. Quarterly visitor arrivals were flat in Japan and declined for the cruise market, but rose in every other major market.
Szigeti said all four island counties benefited from increased visitor spending in the first quarter. He said March results were particularly strong, especially on the neighbor islands.
“This is money that is being circulated throughout the economy in activities, restaurants, retail shops, grocery stores and service providers. Ultimately, this is strengthening jobs for families statewide,” he said.
Szigeti said the visitor industry’s first quarter results reflect the strong pace that Hawaii’s tourism industry maintained through each of the first three months.
“Hawaii continued to do well in the major categories that indicate how tourism is strengthening the state’s economy, visitor spending, generated state tax revenue, visitor arrivals, and air seat capacity,” Szigeti said.
First quarter spending helped generate $563 million in state tax revenue, up nearly $52 million from the same period in 2017, he said.