NAWILIWILI — Mike Scherer said he’s been holding out on hiring extra help for his shop, Skinny Mike’s Hawaiian Ice Cream, but more and more customers keep flowing through his doors.
“Sales numbers are up probably at least anywhere from 10 to 25 percent from last year,” Scherer said.
Businesses generally experience a down time between September and November, but Scherer said the dip wasn’t as major as it was the prior year.
“We’re going to have to hire more help,” he said.
In Kapaa, both Hula Girl Vintage Collection and Deja Vu Surf Hawaii are experiencing more sales. April was particularly strong.
“In addition to our surf brands, we have found that visitors are especially interested in purchasing the Kauai-made products that we offer,” said Sara Miura of Deja Vu Surf Hawaii.
On the other side of the island, Ed Justus, owner of The Bookstore in Hanapepe, said he’s seen a surge in customers since the beginning of the year.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that people aren’t allowing themselves to talk themselves out of getting what they want,” Justus said. “They’re just getting it.”
The stories are reflected in the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s recently released visitor statistics, which show an 18.9 percent increase in visitor expenditures on Kauai for the first four months of 2017 over the time in 2016 — from $536.4 million in 2016 to $637.6 million in 2017.
April expenditures alone increased 13.5 percent to $140 million on Kauai over April 2016.
Scherer said he’s experiencing the effects of that spike in the economy at his shop.
“I’ve been really surprised and happy with it so far,” he said.
Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, attributes some of that spending increase to the number of people traveling to Kauai. The island saw 397,000 guests through April, a 6.5 percent increase from the first four months last year. April saw 101,293 visitors on island, a 9.3 percent increase over 2016.
The Easter holiday and spring break impact visitor numbers in April, but the rest of the year-to-date has also been affected by a new Hawaii Visitor Convention Bureau campaign focused on New York that launched this year. That has contributed to more visitors, 6.4 percent, coming from the East Coast.
Also bringing more people to Kauai is Koloa Landing Resort, which just completed a $100 million expansion on 25 acres near the Koloa Landing small boat launch site.
“(That) has received some attention and arrivals,” Kanoho said.
The resort opened 206 new rooms in March, adding to the villa-style accommodations that range from 1,300 square-foot, one-bedroom apartments to 3,600 square-foot, four-bedroom penthouses. Rates are from around $200 per night all the way through the $2,000 per night and above, according to a search of their rates on their website.
The uptick in visitor arrivals and in the amount of money they’re dishing out impacts the entire community, and the end result is a boosted economy.
“Visitor arrivals leads to jobs, which leads to spending, which leads to a robust economy,” Kanoho said.