Thursday, June 28, 2001

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau


Tourism figures
fall again

Both arrivals and visitor
days are down, but May still
posts second-highest tally

By Russ Lynch

Hawaii's tourist business dipped again in May, the fourth month in a row in which the number of arrivals fell below last year, according to state figures issued today.

In all, 527,944 tourists came to the islands last month , a drop of 4.8 percent or about 27,000 people from May 2000's total of 554,641. A tiny increase in the average length of stay, to 8.41 days from 8.37 days, was not enough to make up for the decline in arrivals. The result was a count of 4.4 million visitor days in May, down 4.4 percent from 4.6 million a year earlier.

Visitor days, the total arrivals multiplied by the length of stay, is considered the most important statistic in examining tourist traffic because it represents the total opportunity to spend money in the islands.

A 7.4 percent decline in arrivals from Japan pulled the May international-arrivals number down by 7.1 percent, to 176,055 last month from 189,484 in May 2000, despite international attendance at this year's Asian Development Bank meeting. Japanese arrivals totaled 129,987 last month, down 7.6 percent from 140,728 in the previous May.

Arrivals from U.S. points were down, too, for a domestic total of 351,889, off 3.6 percent from 365,157 the previous May. Except for Molokai, all of the individual islands showed year-over-year declines for May and DBEDT cautioned that the Molokai sample used in the gathering data is small.

The May decline in total tourism brought the year-to-date figures down, for a 1.4 percent decline in visitor arrivals in January through May, to 2.81 million this year compared to 2.85 million last year. The visitor-days total for the first four months of this year, 25.23 million, was down 1.6 percent from 25.65 million in the first five months of last year.

Despite the May decline compared to last year, it was still the second-strongest May on record, since tourist numbers in 2000 were the highest ever, said the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which issued the report.

"Although we are disappointed by the monthly results, the year-to-date totals are very respectable historically and economically speaking," said Seiji Naya, DBEDT director.

Repeat visitors continued to climb, a factor some industry observers say can lead to less visitor spending as tourists bypass attractions they have seen before and learn how to find bargain accommodations. Last month 57.4 percent of all visitors to the islands had been to Hawaii at least once before, up from 56.6 percent in May 2000.

Among U.S. visitors, 62.5 percent were repeaters last month, compared to 61.7 percent a year earlier. In international visitors, 47.2 percent were repeaters in May, up from 46.7 percent in the previous May.

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

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