Tourism firing
on all cylinders

Hawaii's top visitor markets,
the U.S. West, U.S. East
and Japan, are posting
growth from last year

Visitor arrivals to Hawaii rose 9.7 percent last month to 560,134 from 510,815 a year earlier, and the state's tourism industry may be headed for a record year.

"October is usually a questionable month and it ended up being quite solid."

Stan Brown
Marriott International

Arrivals from the U.S. mainland and foreign countries posted similar growth during the month, with a 9.8 percent increase in domestic arrivals and a 9.3 percent gain in international arrivals, according to data released yesterday from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

"It was the best October for domestic arrivals," said state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert. "If we continue this trend through the end of the year, we could come very close to 7 million visitor arrivals -- the most we've ever had."

In the first nine months of the year, the state had 5.8 million arrivals, up 8.8 percent from 5.3 million a year ago.

Arrivals from the state's top two markets, the U.S. West and U.S. East, were up 5.5 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively, in October.

The two markets represent about 63 percent of Hawaii's visitors. Arrivals from Hawaii's top two international markets, Japan and Canada, rose 8.5 percent and 17 percent, respectively.


"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 for more than one month," said David Carey, president and chief executive officer of Outrigger Hotels & Resorts. He expects the momentum will carry Hawaii to a record year. "Our fall numbers are much higher than they've been in the past and Christmas promises to be really strong."

Contributing to the October increase was a 10.4 percent growth in airline seats serving the islands, Wienert said, adding that Hawaii's strong honeymoon market has also boosted arrivals.

"We had a 13.6 percent increase in this market segment in October," Wienert said. "And, it's only going to get better."

November is traditionally the state's strongest wedding/honeymoon month, she said.

The domestic honeymoon market increased 11.7 percent in the first nine months of the year from last year and Japanese honeymooners are up by 18.5 percent, Wienert said.

More domestic visitors are choosing Hawaii because poor exchange rates have made trips to Europe more expensive, Carey said.

The state's domestic market also continues to be buoyed by economic prosperity and the perception that Hawaii is a safe destination, he said.

"There were also some pretty significant summer storms this year and we picked up significant business from other damaged destinations," said Stan Brown, Marriott International's vice president for the Pacific and Japan. "October is usually a questionable month and it ended up being quite solid."

Visitor arrivals from the state's cruise ship industry rose by 56.6 percent last month, with about 35,441 visitors touring the islands by ship.

Demand for Hawaii as a destination has driven carriers to add flights, Wienert said. Japan Airlines and Harmony have added international seats, and so have domestic carriers, she said.

Total time spent in Hawaii increased 4 percent from last year. Visitors stayed an average of 8.5 days last month and spent $849.9 million, an increase that boosted overall spending by 6.8 percent to $8.5 billion for the first nine months of the year.

"Visitor spending is at an all-time high and is being circulated in various parts of the economy," Wienert said. "That's great news for the visitor industry's bottom line."

U.S. West spending is up 3.8 percent, U.S. East spending has risen 29.2 percent, Japanese spending rose by 0.6 percent and Canadian spending increased by 11.5 percent. Visitors from the U.S. East spent the most per trip at $1,737 a person in October.

Although it's been a bang-up year, Carey expects some of the growth to level off in January.

"I do detect a slight leveling of the demand going into the first quarter of next year," Carey said. "We'll have pretty good levels, but not same year-over-year growth that we've seen."



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