Rain, floods fail to halt visitor growth statewide
Tourists spent more and stayed longer in May despite some stormy weather
Despite fears that heavy spring rain and a sewage spill that temporarily shut down Waikiki Beach could discourage travel to the Aloha State, the tourism industry enjoyed a solid month in May. The number of visitors, the amount of money they spent and the length of time they stayed in Hawaii all grew.
The number of Hawaii visitors increased minimally in May from the same month last year, but the tepid growth was bolstered by people staying longer and spending more. That brought relief to tourism executives, some of whom who had feared the worst.
"Everyone was a little concerned that May would not materialize as hoped because of the weather and the challenges we had with the sewage spill in March and April," said Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison. "But it did not affect us as we thought it could."
Nearly 577,000 people visited Hawaii in May, compared with 567,476 during May 2005, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said in its monthly tourism report released yesterday.
Although that was only a 1.7 percent increase, the number of total visitor days grew by nearly 3.6 percent and visitor spending gained 3.4 percent to $886.6 million.
During the first five months of this year, total visitor expenditures increased 6.6 percent, to $4.7 billion.
The growth in May follows a record year in 2005 and comes as economists and industry experts have begun to suggest that Hawaii's visitor industry is nearing its capacity.
Visitor arrivals were undercut by a decline in visitors from Japan, who represent Hawaii's third-largest market. Japanese arrivals declined 10.9 percent in May compared with the same period last year.
But that was more than offset by the growth in U.S. West and Canadian arrivals. Arrivals from the U.S. East slipped 1.1 percent.
Kelvin Bloom, president of ResortQuest Hawaii, said that Hawaii's unique appeal continued to attract visitors despite some bad press this past spring.
"I think it's working pretty much on all fronts and all islands as well," said Bloom. "We're exotic but American as well, plus a terrific haven for families."
With 5,000 rooms on four islands, ResortQuest is the state's largest hotel operator. ResortQuest's summer bookings "are looking very solid at this point," Bloom said. "The domestic market continues to show strength."
The number of visitors arriving in Hawaii in May, with the percentage change from the same month last year:
Source: Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism