HANAMAULU — Kauai Backcountry Adventures is booked out 45 days in advance. So when the latest Hawaii Tourism Authority report showed tourism is slowing down, they say they have not noticed.
“It’s been a perfect season weather-wise,” manager Sean Stogner said, pointing to the weather in 2018, especially the flooding in April, as something that decreased customer count last year.
Not all businesses are feeling as confident, however.
“Somewhat because of the weather and the North Shore closure, we have noticed a decrease in customers,” an employee at Snorkel Bob’s said of their client number thus far in 2019. “A little bit less people compared to last year.”
Both visitor spending and visitor arrivals were down through the first half of 2019 on Kauai, according to the HTA, which released visitor statistics on Tuesday.
Through six months, visitor spending on Kauai was a reported $961.9 million, down 5.7% compared to the same period in 2018. Visitor arrivals through June on Kauai totaled 686,236, down 1.7% compared to the first six months of 2018.
“I always tell everybody that last year was an anomaly that is not going to be matched this year,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director for the Kauai Visitors Bureau.
“Because of Pele and a lot of trips being rebooked to the Neighbor Islands because everybody was concerned about sulfur dioxide and they thought the (Big) island was on fire, so we benefited from that.”
Visitors spent $195 million in June on Kauai, down slightly from June 2018. Kauai welcomed 135,069 visitors in June, also down slightly from June 2018.
More travelers to Kauai in June came from U.S. West (+4.9%) to offset fewer visitors from Japan (-38.9%), U.S. East (-3.9%) and Canada (-2.4%).
Kanoho said the decrease in the U.S. East and Canada visitors can be related to seasonal weather, as those areas are in their summer months and people from there tend to visit during the winter.
“The U.S. West was up 4.9%. That’s our No. 1 market,” she said.
“Fewer visitors from Japan, so Japan, it runs hot and cold, and so to be down 38.9%, it’s a very small number we see.
“So when you look at the slice of pie, it is a very small number that we get.”
Statewide, visitors spent a total of $8.9 billion in the first half of 2019, a decrease of 2% compared to the same period in 2018, according to HTA.
Total visitor arrivals to the Hawaiian Islands increased 4.2 percent to 5.2 million in the first half of 2019, supported by growth in arrivals from air service (+4.0% to 5.1 million) and cruise ships (+15.9% to 76,472).
Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.