NAWILIWILI — Harbor Mall is usually busy with tourists. But the day after Christmas, it was slow. Lee Rog was sitting at his hut of shells waiting for customers to check out his inventory when he shared his business theory.
“Tourism is so slow compared to other islands because Kauai is the last island the cruise ships stop at,” he said. “Also, we don’t have a strip or infrastructure like Waikiki or Lahaina on Maui, where tourists can walk and shop for a mile or two.”
Business was brisk, though, at Skinny Mike’s Hawaiian Ice Cream shop on a sunny Thursday afternoon.
Ziyad Karim from Southern California just got into Kauai from the Pride of Hawaii cruise ship. When asked if he started his shopping, he said, “Actually, we’ve just been hiking and buying food to eat.”
The tourism industry held steady statewide and on Kauai in November, according to the latest report from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Kauai saw 104,517 visitors in November, an increase of 0.1% from November 2018. Kauai has had 1.25 million visitors for the first 11 months of the year, down slightly from 1.27 million for the same time frame last year.
Visitor spending on Kauai in November was $137.6 million, down 3.7 percent from $142.8 million in November 2018. For the year through November, Kauai visitors have spent $1.7 billion, a decline of 5.8 percent from $1.83 billion for the same time frame last year.
Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands spent a total of $1.33 billion in November, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to November 2018, according to HTA.
Total visitor arrivals rose 4.2 percent to 811,382 visitors in November, supported by growth in arrivals from air service (+3.7% to 794,841) and arrivals by cruise ships (+39.6% to 16,541).
Among the four larger islands, Oahu recorded increased visitor spending (+3.4% to $628.8 million) in November, boosted by growth in visitor arrivals (+4.6% to 470,404) and higher daily spending (+4.6%).
Maui saw increases in visitor spending (+4.5% to $381.0 million), daily spending (+5.5%) and visitor arrivals (+3.0% to 233,631), as did the island of Hawaii, with growth in visitor spending (+6.9% to $162.1 million), visitor arrivals (+7.8% to 132,814) and daily spending (+1.3%).
Tourism dollars from the transient accommodations tax helped to fund a number of community events statewide during November, including the Hawaii International Film Festival, the Kauai Old Time Gathering, and the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
Jason Engleman and Katie Shire from the Bay Area were waiting to order pizza at Pietro’s in Harbor Mall. They said it was their 10th time visiting Kauai, and they try to come every year.
Waiting for their next adventure, Cheryl Beaton from Australia and her three granddaughters were taking a break in the shade. She loves Kauai because it reminds her of her home.
“Right now it’s hot back at home. The weather is nice here,” said Beaton.
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.