Hawaii island’s tourism decline contributes to state softening
Tourism performance was mixed across the isles in February with double- digit dips in spending and arrivals from Hawaii island contributing to statewide softening.
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Tourism performance was mixed across the isles in February with double-
digit dips in spending and arrivals from Hawaii island contributing to statewide softening.
Some 782,584 visitors came to Hawaii in February, up just 0.5 percent from February 2018. Visitor spending decreased to $1.39 billion, a nearly 3 percent drop from the same month last year.
More visitors came to
Hawaii from the U.S. West market, Japan, Canada and by cruise ship. However, fewer visitors came from the U.S. East and the category of “all other international markets,” which is everything but Japan and Canada.
Maui saw visitor arrivals grow nearly 2 percent to 220,801 and spending rise more than 1 percent to
$413 million. The number
of visitors to Oahu stayed flat at 456,820, but spending dipped nearly 2 percent to $613 million. Kauai’s visitor spending increased nearly
5 percent to more than
$153 million, but arrivals stayed flat at 104,167.
island visitors fell almost
15 percent to 137,502, and their spending declined nearly 18 percent to more than $192 million. The
drop was likely exacerbated by Hawaii island’s strong start in 2018. However, Hawaii island tourism began softening in May when eruption activity at Kilauea Volcano heightened. Lava stopped spewing in late summer, but tourism hasn’t rebounded.
Jay Talwar, chief marketing officer for Hawaii Tourism United States, said “perceptions of the island of Hawaii have affected the state of Hawaii.”
HTA last year pumped an additional $1.9 million into marketing Hawaii island to visitors from the U.S. and Japan. While those campaigns yielded results, there’s more branding left to do.
Some visitors still think the lava is flowing and that the island air is hazy. On the flip side, even visitors who realize that the eruption has stopped may be unfamiliar with Hawaii
On Thursday the board approved another $2.5 million to market Hawaii
island. Some $1.5 million
is earmarked for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to market Hawaii
island to U.S. visitors and to develop new marketing assets for global distribution. Another $1 million is for use by Hawaii Tourism Japan, which must ensure tourism numbers from
Japan are strong enough to keep a second international port of entry at the Kona airport.
Eric Takahata, Hawaii Tourism Japan managing director, said Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines have indicated that they don’t plan to pull direct international flights into Kona. However, airplane load factors for these carriers on these routes have dropped from mid-80 percent to between 50 and
60 percent, Takahata said.