More tourists are visiting the Hawaiian islands, but they are creating less economic benefit.
Visitor arrivals in March grew nearly 4% from the prior year to 939,064, according to preliminary data released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority this morning. March arrivals increased from the U.S. East, the U.S. West, and Canada. Visitor arrivals from Japan were flat, but dropped for cruise ships and the category called other, which includes international arrivals from outside Canada and Japan.
March visitor spending fell more than 2% to $1.5 billion as every major market posted either flat or declining results. On average, visitors spent $1,604 per trip, a drop of 6% from March 2018.
The monthly results set the tone for the quarter, which saw visitor arrivals increase nearly 3% to more than 2.5 million visitors as more tourists came from every major market except cruise ships and the category called other, comprised of all international arrivals from outside Canada and Japan.
At the same time, spending declined to just over $4.5 billion, a more than 2% drop from the first three months of 2018. While cruise ship visitors spent more during the first quarter of 2019 than they did in the first quarter of 2018, quarterly spending fell in almost every market save for the U.S. West, which was flat. The average per-person cost of a trip to Hawaii during the first quarter was $1,777, down nearly 5% from the same period in 2018.
There were mixed results across the islands. On Oahu, visitor spending and arrivals increased in March and for the quarter. On Maui, monthly and quarterly arrivals increased, while spending decreased. Arrivals and spending dropped in March and for the quarter on Kauai and Hawaii island.
Total air capacity rose nearly 2% to nearly 1.2 million seats in March and over 1% to 3.3 million seats during the first quarter.