Visitor arrivals tumble

Kaua’i visitor arrivals tanked last month, with total arrivals at 90,866, a double-digit percentage drop (12.3 percent) from the 103,558 arrivals in June of 2001.

It marked the worst June showing for the island since 1998.

Only Kaua’i among the counties showed a decrease in arrivals from the state’s most important geographic point of visitor origin, the western United States. That decrease, though, was just 1.1 percent.

According to figures from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the numbers of Kaua’i visitors are also off for the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year.

For the first half of this year, 485,674 visitors arrived on Kaua’i, off 7.7 percent from last year’s same-period figure of 526,312.

The first-half figure this year is the worst since 1996, when 481,220 arrivals were recorded over the first six month.

Still, Kaua’i visitor-industry leaders are upbeat about the remainder of the summer, and the remainder of the year.

“The island’s off just a little bit,” as everyone predicted it would be in the months after Sept. 11, said Jerry Gibson, president of the Hawaii Hotel Association Kaua’i chapter and manager of the Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa in Po’ipu.

Certain markets, like travelers being sent to the island by tour wholesalers, are doing well, he said. Others aren’t doing as well, Gibson observed.

“It’s not what it was last year,” but nobody was expecting it to be. “We’ll get through summer OK, through fall OK, and it will be an OK year. We’re doing as well as expected.

“We’re living up to what we thought we would,” after the industry revised lower its expectations for arrival counts after Sept. 11, Gibson commented.

“There’s still people who aren’t traveling, but lots who are.”

The island should be grateful to have the twice-a-day nonstop arrivals from United Airlines from the West Coast, and the daily American Airlines flight from Los Angeles, Gibson added.

Those flights have helped the island’s visitor count, he noted.

Some 590,575 visitors arrived in Hawai’i last month, off just 1.4 percent from the 599,194 arrivals in June 2001. For the first six months this year, the state greeted 3,107,904 visitors, off 8.8 percent compared to 3,409,050 arrivals during the same period last year.

Domestic visitors to the state increased last month compared to June 2001, though year-to-date domestic visitor arrival numbers were off 2.6 percent.

The increase in domestic arrivals, statewide, was a good sign for state tourism officials.

“The fact that the U.S. west, our primary visitor market, has surpassed last year’s performance to date is helping shape a very encouraging picture of the visitor industry,” said Dr. Seiji Naya, DBEDT director.

“We are also very pleased that the total number of honeymooners to the islands is up by 3.1 percent for the first six months of the year,” he said.

Japanese visitors in May, and for the first five months of this year, remain the highest-spending visitors to the islands, averaging $296.30 per person per day in May, and $276.70 for the first five months.

They don’t stay as long as other visitors (around six days, compared to between nine and 11 days for other visitors), but their total per person per trip spending is still the highest, at $1,823 in May of this year, and $1,646 for the first five months this year.

Most other visitors spend less than or around $200 a day, and between $1,200 and $2,300 per trip.

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