Visitors flock to Kauai in ‘15

LIHUE — The Garden Isle saw the biggest increase in visitor arrivals in January while overall traffic to the state was down slightly compared to the year before, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The HTA said in a release that it anticipated a flattening in arrivals and spending in early 2015 after three consecutive record-breaking years, but the relatively flat numbers helped the state tourism economy show signs of stabilizing.

Overall, January’s visitors were 4,000 less than the same month a year before. That marked a .6 percent drop.

Total expenditures dropped $1.4 million, a 2.5 percent drop.

Arrivals to Kauai rose 6.8 percent to 97,219 visitors in January. Daily spending fell 2.7 percent to $173 per person compared to January 2014, however, overall visitor expenditures were up 1.2 percent to $149 million.

Kauai Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho said she was encouraged to see that last year’s efforts in the international markets are paying off for Kauai. 

“Having the overall visitor expenditures up for January is still a good sign for our economy,” she said.

HTA reported a 9.2 percent statewide increase from core domestic markets, and a less than expected softening of the international market.

Increased air capacity to neighbor islands contributed to growth in arrivals and expenditures. One-day trippers to Kauai were up 15.4 percent to 9,461.

Kauai Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Francisco said the positive data reflects a good synergy between airlift and accommodations and is a good start to the new year.

“The activities and attractions-related sector should also benefit from these increases which will further increase our economy recovery,” he said.

The 50,160 Kauai-only visitors marked a 3.5 percent increase. 

The 17,707 international visitors by air to Kauai in January was a 51.4 percent increase. Kauai only international visitors were up 17.7 percent to 5,471.

Kauai saw 2,216 visitors from Japan, which is a 20.6 percent increase from 2014. At the same time, the Kauai only number dropped 34.9 percent to 101, and the 1,181 one day or less was a 14.4 percent drop.

Overall, the slight decline in traffic to Hawaii is attributed to a reduction in international air seats and continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar.

Oahu arrivals dropped 2.9 percent to 400,525 visitors, with a 9.1 percent loss in expenditures to $595.3 million. Maui’s visitor arrivals grew 6.8 percent to 211,032, and expenditures up 6.1 percent to $438.5 million. Visitor arrivals to Hawaii Island grew 0.6 percent to 130,713 visitors, with a 0.9 percent increase in expenditures to $196.2 million.

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