Visitor arrivals down in March, but spending up

Visitor arrivals to the state were down this March when compared to last; however, spending managed to post modest gains.

Visitor spending among travellers arriving by air was up 4.4 percent to $1.058 billion, according to preliminary statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism this week.

Arrivals declined 1 percent in March 2008 over the same month last year to 666,167 people. However, year-to-date arrivals were up 2.8 percent over 2007. This increase contributed to a jump in year-to-date spending, which was up 6 percent to $3.2 billion over the same three-month period last year.

Kaua‘i followed the trend, with a decline in arrivals and a modest increase in spending. Total arrivals to the Garden Isle were down 11.8 percent this March compared to last, while year-to-date arrivals to Kaua‘i were down 5.8 percent over the same period last year.

Kaua‘i stats sluggish in March

Visitor arrivals to Kaua‘i for March and the year to date were down. Much of the decline was attributed to the withdrawal of interisland cruise ships. Total visitor days on Kaua‘i were down 2.6 percent.

With the exception of Kaua‘i and Big Island, arrivals year-to-date were up across the state for the same period.

Fewer visitors in March went to more than one island during their stay. More total visitors stayed exclusively on Kaua‘i (up 5.8 percent), Maui, Moloka‘i and Lana‘i.

State outlook

Boosted by a $5 increase in average daily spending to $180 per person this March over last, air visitor expenditures rose by $44.4 million or 4.4 percent to $1.1 billion — this despite a 0.9 percent decline in visitors who arrived by air over last year. Visitor days, however, were up slightly. this March.

Air and cruise visitors combined also fell by 1 percent for the month. Total visitor days for air and cruise visitors combined grew 5.1 percent year-to-date compared to 2007.

Among the top four visitor markets, air arrivals from Canada increased 16.3 percent while U.S. West arrivals rose 1.9 percent. Arrivals from the U.S. East and Japan were lower compared to March 2007.

“We are very pleased by the continued growth in total visitor spending in March and the increase in U.S. West and Canadian visitors to the state,” Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert said.

Canada on the rise, Japan posts declines

The growth in arrivals from Canada marked the eighth consecutive month of increases since August 2007. Year-to-date, Canadian arrivals rose 24.8 percent to 134,072 visitors. In addition, Canadian visitors who planned to stay in condominiums in Hawai‘i jumped 27.7 percent in March 2008 and 47.4 percent year-to-date.

March 2008 marked the third consecutive month that Canadian visitor days surpassed Japanese visitor days.

Japanese arrivals continued to decline, with the biggest drop on Kaua‘i with a 41.1 percent decrease.

Cruise ship numbers struggling

Visitors who came by cruise ship declined 10.1 percent in March over last year; however the year-to-date figures were up 4.6 percent. Visitor days for all cruise visitors decreased 22 percent.

The decrease was attributed to the departure of the Pride of Hawai‘i, which discontinued its interisland cruises in January. Also there was one less ship tour from the Pride of Aloha, which changed its itinerary from seven-day cruises to ten- and eleven-day cruises. In addition, the Norwegian Wind, which was in the islands last March, has not been in Hawai‘i since April 2007.

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