Visitor arrivals
near 2000 levels

All three major markets showed
gains, with domestic arrivals
hitting the highest level ever

It was a September to remember for Hawaii's tourism industry as summer's strength continued into fall and boosted arrivals to levels not seen since 2000, the state's record year.


Domestic arrivals reached the highest level for the month on record, rising 11.8 percent to 350,326 visitors; while Canadian visitor arrivals surged 20.5 percent. And, Japanese arrivals have come back to near-2002 levels from the depths seen after the war with Iraq and SARS.

"It's been a long time since we've had all three major markets, the U.S. East, U.S. West and Japan, in the plus column," said David Carey, president and chief executive officer of Outrigger Hotels & Resorts.

"Our fall forward numbers are much higher than they've been in the past and advance bookings look really good," said Carey, adding that he expects the momentum to carry Hawaii through the soft season.

"It looks like we'll have another good Christmas," Carey said.

State visitor arrivals rose 9.6 percent to 520,602 from 474,981 in the same month last year, with the 11.8 percent increase in domestic arrivals and a 5.4 percent gain in international arrivals, according to figures released today by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Visitor arrivals increased on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island over the same period last year.

"Our domestic visitors continue to show the best records ever. In a month that typically shows the valleys, the increase in domestic travel has leveled out visitor arrivals," said State Tourism Liasion Marsha Wienert, who added that it's clear state efforts to increase travel in the shoulder periods are working.

Arrivals from the state's top two markets, the U.S. West and U.S. East, were up 11.8 percent in September, and represented nearly 70 percent of Hawaii's visitors.

Also, visitor arrivals from the state's burgeoning cruise ship industry rose by 34.9 percent, with about 21,180 visitors touring the islands by ship.

The surge in arrivals is related to an increase in air seat capacity as demand for Hawaii as a destination has driven carriers to add more flights, Wienert said.

Japan Airlines and Harmony have added international seats along with domestic carriers, she said.

"Year-to-date statistics show a 5.9 percent growth in scheduled air seats from the U.S. West and a 36.5 percent jump in scheduled air seats from nonstop direct flights from the U.S. East," she said.

Improving infrastructure also has increased the number of visitors who are coming to the islands, Carey said.

"I talk to visitors all the time who say they can't believe how much Waikiki has changed," he said, adding that as word of improvements gets out it will further boost the state's visitor industry.

More domestic visitors are choosing Hawaii because poor exchange rates have made trips to Europe more expensive and some of the Caribbean's luster has diminished, Carey said. The state's domestic market also continues to be buoyed by the perception that Hawaii is a safe destination, he said.

Demand for Hawaii and increased airlift has resulted in more visitors for the state, but more importantly, data shows that these visitors are spending more, Wienert said.

Total travel time in Hawaii, calculated as visitor days, increased 4.6 percent from last year.

Visitors stayed an average of 9.11 days last month and spent $783.3 million, an increase that boosted overall spending by 6.5 percent to $7.7 billion for the first nine months of the year.

U.S. West spending is up 4.7 percent, U.S. East spending has risen 15.4 percent, Japanese spending rose by 2.3 percent and Canadian spending increased by 40.7 percent.

Visitors from the U.S. East spent the most per trip at $1,727 per person in September 2004, followed by those from all other markets at $1,691 per person, from Canada at $1,627 per person, from Japan at $1,416 per person and from the U.S. West at $1,376 per person.



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