HONOLULU, HI – According to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, total visitor days for air and cruise visitors in September 2009 rose 4.8 percent from the same month last year, boosted by a 7.2 percent growth in total arrivals by air and cruise ships to 494,376 visitors. The average length of stay by these visitors was 8.89 days, compared to 9.10 days in September 2008.
Despite the increases in arrivals, total visitor expenditure for September 2009 declined due to lower average daily spending by these visitors – US$171 per person, down from US$186 per person in September 2008. Total expenditure by air visitors in the month of September 2009 was US$737.1 million, a drop of US$22.7 million or 3 percent compared to last September.
Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said: “We are encouraged by the visitor arrival data for September 2009 that was released today. For the fifth consecutive month, we have seen an increase in arrivals from the US west out of some of our key areas, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, that we have focused our marketing efforts on.
“Our aggressive marketing efforts in Japan, coupled with the strength of the Japanese yen, helped us to capitalize on “Silver Week” boosting arrivals by 16.7 percent to 110,634 visitors, and there was an increase in air arrivals from US east of 6.9 percent that is directly related to the number of visitors who came from the US east to attend conventions, including the American Dental Association Convention. Conventions business increased 140.6 percent (or by 7,842 visitors) over last September.
“While we are extremely concerned about the decline in total visitor expenditures, we were not surprised by the data. During challenging economic times, visitor destinations throughout the world are fighting for market share. In an effort to remain competitive in the short term, Hawaii’s visitor industry was forced to reevaluate and reposition its product offerings, which often resulted in the reduction of rates. This repositioning in the global marketplace is helping Hawaii remain competitive in the short-term, maintain and even increase market share, and ensure that airlift capacity to our state is preserved. In the long term, these efforts will keep us engaged with our audience, helping us to improve visitor expenditures in the future.
“Additionally, we have been closely monitoring booking pace for the Hawaii Convention Center. In August, two pieces of business were secured and then in September, another three bookings were signed, for a total of five confirmed bookings, including the Honolulu Festival – March 2011 and March 2012 (two events), the International Group – November 2009 (two events), and the International Astronomical Union – August 2015. In total, these groups are expected to bring in more than 16,000 delegates and generate US$90 million in visitor spending.”