HTA preparing for possible tourism downturn

Published On: Nov 27 2013 02:04:58 PM HST   Updated On: Nov 27 2013 02:45:47 PM HST

October 2013 was the second month that total visitor expenditures and visitor arrivals to Hawaii were less than the previous year, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority.

Hawaii has witnessed slower growth in visitor arrivals since July 2013.  The average daily visitor spending for October 2013 was down 1.5 percent to $195 per person. For the first 10 months of 2013, total visitor expenditures and arrivals remained ahead of year-to-date 2012.

"With visitor expenditures surpassing $12 billion during the first ten months of the year, tourism has contributed $1.26 billion in tax revenue for the state, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year," said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney.  "However, while we anticipate exceeding visitor arrival and spending records reached in 2012, the declines experienced in September and October are expected to continue through the remainder of this year and into 2014."

Expenditures by U.S. West visitors for the month of October 2013 fell 7 percent to $350.8 million, as a result of decreases in arrivals and daily spending.

U.S. East arrivals dropped 3.8 percent to 112,807 visitors and U.S. East visitor expenditures totaled $236.7 million, down 2.2 percent compared to October 2012.

Japanese arrivals rose 9.4 percent to 139,025 visitors in October 2013.  However, lower daily spending resulted in a 2.3 percent decline in Japanese visitor expenditures to $232.4 million.

Canadian visitor expenditures grew 1.3 percent to $59.4 million, boosted by a 4.8 percent growth in arrivals to 29,957 visitors.

"Visitors have become more conscientious of their spending as the cost of a Hawaii vacation continues to rise. This trend has caused a shortening in the average length of stay," said McCartney.  "Currency exchange rates and competitive pricing are also affecting visitor arrivals and spending and may contribute to continued declines and potentially move market share to competing destinations"

Arrivals from all other markets were up 4.8 percent to 95,434 visitors, with significantly more visitors from Oceania and a 9.6 percent growth from Europe. 

Among the islands, visitor expenditures in October 2013 declined on Oahu (-10.2 percent) but rose on Kauai (+15.4 percent), Hawaii Island (+11.7 percent) and Maui (+1.1 percent).

There were 851,205 total air seats to Hawaii in October 2013, up 1.3 percent compared to 2012.  Growth in scheduled seats from Oceania (+54.5 percent), Other Asia (+20.8 percent) and Japan (+12.3 percent) offset declines from U.S. West (-4.8 percent) and U.S. East (-8.7 percent).

"As airlines adjust their flights and routes to match demand, we are seeing declines in seat inventory from the U.S. mainland. While there has been steady growth in air seats from international destinations through our efforts to diversify our markets, we are monitoring how domestic market declines and trends could impact all markets," said McCartney.  "We continue to work with our marketing contractors in adjusting our plans and initiatives through 2014. As we prepare for a potential downturn in Hawaii's tourism economy, we continue to focus on driving demand from growing international markets to bolster a softening domestic market and maintain a sustainable tourism economy."


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