Friday, February 26, 1999

decline deepens

Visitor traffic from Asia
falls 13 percent, but longer stays
and more travel from the
West are helping
Hawaii's economy

By Russ Lynch


The Hawaii tourism industry continued reeling last month as a whopping 13 percent drop in arrivals from Asia dragged down visitor traffic to the isles for the 11th consecutive month, compared with year-earlier totals.

The downturn in Hawaii's biggest industry would have been worse if it wasn't for a boom in travel from the mainland and longer stays by those Asia-Pacific visitors who did come, the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism said today.

Art Combined, visitor traffic to the state in January fell 1.8 percent.

Westbound arrivals, most of them from the mainland but including Canadians and travelers from Europe and elsewhere, were up 5.5 percent.

But the healthy westbound gain, 18,450 more visitors than there were in January 1998, was more than wiped out by a drop of 28,460 in eastbound arrivals.

The Asia-Pacific visitors, most of them from Japan, stayed an average of 6.26 days, compared to 5.51 days in the previous January.

The length of stay among westbound travelers averaged 12.42 days, the same as January 1998. The result, DBEDT said, was a 5.9 percent increase in the average length of stay among all visitors.

That brought visitor days up 4 percent, increasing expenditures for hotel rooms, restaurants, sightseeing and other activities.

"We are pleased that westbound arrivals continued to grow for the 10th straight month," said Seiji Naya, DBEDT director.

He said the boost was clearly a result of growth in the U.S. economy.

"The eastbound market remains problematic due to poor economic conditions," Naya said.

He said he hopes the Japanese will be brought back by an aggressive $10.4 million advertising campaign launched in Japan by the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau.

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