Isle visitor arrivals fall short of record
Visitor counts fell just short of records achieved in the first half of 2006
Lower visitor counts and spending in June caused Hawaii's tourism industry for the first half of this year to fall just short of records achieved in the first half of 2006, according to statistics released yesterday by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.
Total arrivals in June 2007 fell by 0.8 percent to 664,703 visitors and spending fell 0.5 percent to $1.08 billion. However, given the strong growth achieved in June 2006, tourism officials characterized the market as more than satisfactory.
"We knew going into 2007 that to try and beat or even exceed the tremendous growth that we've seen was going to be a very difficult situation," said State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert. "It's a great indicator of what a strong brand Hawaii has become that we are seeing year-to-date increases in various market segments."
Total visitor arrivals for the first half of the year dipped a scant 0.6 percent as arrivals from the more coveted, higher-spending Japan and U.S. East markets dropped a respective 7.4 percent and 2.1 percent as compared to the same period in 2006. Visitor arrivals from the U.S. West rose 4.1 percent and 1.2 percent from Canada during the first six months of 2007.
Total visitor expenditures in the first half of 2007 grew to $5.9 billion, a 1.2 percent increase over the same period last year. While expenditures rose 4.7 percent from the U.S. West and 5.1 percent from Canada, spending from Japan declined by 7.1 percent and it fell 0.1 percent from the U.S. East.
"We are having a pretty good year," Wienert said, adding that while Japan and the U.S. East are still down, both markets improved in June. The U.S. East market brought many cruise ship visitors to Hawaii and the Japan honeymoon and weddings market also realized significant increases, she said.
While Hawaii hoteliers saw strong performances in June and during the first half of 2007, the market held less vigor than it did in 2006, said Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association.
"The concern people are expressing at the moment is that business isn't as robust as it was a year ago," Towill said. "Hoteliers are saying 'my room rates might be up, but my occupancy is down.'"
A drop in Hawaii's group meetings, convention and travel business, an increase in the popularity of cruise ships and a more varied mix of accommodations, including timeshares and condominium hotels, has made it more challenging for Hawaii hotels, he said.