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StarBulletin.com

Brief respite for tourism


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POSTED: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The rise in visitor arrivals from key markets last month was a bright spot for Hawaii's struggling visitor industry; however, it is not strong enough to guide the state to a robust holiday period.

Arrivals from the U.S. West and Japan rose in October, but the outlook for November and December is weak, said state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert.

In plentiful times, holiday travel to Hawaii is usually sold out by July or August. Last year as the state grappled with the global economic crisis, there was plenty of room at the inn, and visitors to Hawaii were gifted with discounts and perks. Sadly, there will be room again this holiday season, Wienert said.

“;November numbers don't look good, and the first few weeks of December are terrible,”; she said. “;And without the Pro Bowl, January isn't looking so hot, either.”;

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported yesterday that total October arrivals fell 1.7 percent. Some 505,676 visitors came to Hawaii last month, but those who arrived stayed fewer days and spent less than those who visited before.

“;The decreases in visitor spending and arrivals in October were anticipated due to the continued global and national economic challenges,”; Wienert said, adding that the loss was not as severe as last October's double-digit decreases.

               

     

 

VISITOR ARRIVALS

        The number of visitors arriving in Hawaii by air in October with the percentage change from the same month last year:
       

       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
 VisitorsPCT.
Domestic350,645-1.3
International144,187+2.1
Total494,832-0.3
Grand total*505,676-1.7
by island
Oahu316,361+0.1
Kauai73,616-1.8
Lanai4,383-30.6
Maui142,956-4.0
Molokai3,778-26.5
Big Island92,753-4.6

       

        * Includes arrivals by ship
       

Source: Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

       

Visitors from the U.S. West, Hawaii's top market, rose 2.5 percent in October, which was the sixth consecutive monthly increase. Arrivals from Japan increased by 2.6 percent, and Canada rose a scant 0.5 percent. However, arrivals from the U.S. East fell 2.9 percent, and all other markets declined by 9 percent.

Even the struggling neighbor islands saw October recovery, Wienert said.

Total expenditures and per-person-per-day spending on Kauai increased for the second consecutive month, with Maui and the Big Island posting per-person-per-day spending increases, too, she said.

The average length of stay by visitors fell to 8.95 days from the year prior's 9.10 days. Total October visitor spending fell by 5.2 percent to $792.7 million. On average, October visitors spent $6 less per day.

Marketing and value-added packages generated short-term business in October, but the results might not last, Wienert said.

As long as unemployment remains high, many American households will lack the confidence to take long trips to places like Hawaii, said Byron Gangnes, director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization's Hawaii Economy Group.

“;It will take some time for Hawaii's visitor industry to get back to peak 2006 and 2007 levels,”; Gangnes said. “;So many people have been shell-shocked by the financial crisis and the recession that we could see a rebound in the coming year, but at this point it's hard to be optimistic about that.”;

Even with the Jehovah's Witness conference, November is going to be flat, Wienert said.

A lack of major group business in December will pose significant market challenges, she said.

“;If ever there was a time to visit Hawaii during the holidays, this would be the time,”; she said. “;There will be plenty of room and plenty of specials.”;

TREADING WATER

The monthly total arrivals and percentage change in visitors to Hawaii:

2008

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
MonthArrivalsChange
December563,542-16.5%
November496,877-15.9%
October511,518-13.5%
September461,052-19.5%
August608,392-17.4%
July614,207-14.1%
June580,862-14.2%
May554,399-7.4%
April548,792-7.6%
March666,167-1.0%
February603,689+5.9%
January597,126+4.1%
Year total6,806,62210.8%
2009
October505,676-1.7%
September494,376+7.2%
August608,4200.0%
July624,140+1.5%
June550,421-5.2%
May516,204-6.9%
April541,610-1.3%
March555,902-16.6%
February527,222-12.7%
January522,241-12.5%
YTD total5,446,211-5.5%

Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority