Visitor spending boosts Hawaii's tourism economy

HTA president Mike McCartney
HTA president Mike McCartney

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Visitors to Hawaii from every major market are spending more and staying longer, according to the latest figures from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Also, arrivals from Japan are up for the first time since the March earthquake and tsunami. Visitor arrivals from the country plunged more than 23% right after the disaster. Golden Week numbers in May were weak, but now there are signs of recovery. After six straight months of losses, Japanese arrivals rose slightly by 0.8%.

"It started to climb slowly and this month was the first time in September where we had more arrivals this month than we did a year ago," said HTA president Mike McCartney.

The news comes as a welcome boost right after the governor's trip to Japan and China where he met with travel industry leaders.

"What could I say or do there that would help to focus on Hawaii in a positive way? So what I did was there's a difference. There's more than sun and there's more than beaches. There's the people," said Abercrombie at a news conference on Monday.

According to the HTA, overall visitor spending grew to more than $1 billion dollars last month, an increase of 19.7%.

"That meant that every visitor who came to Hawaii spent about $22 per person per day more. The exciting news is that every market was up, including Japan in arrivals and expenditures," said McCartney.

Neighbor islands also saw increases in arrivals and expenditures. McCartney expects the momentum to continue through early next year with more airline seats to Hawaii.

"We have new airlift from Korea, some new lift from Japan. We have additional lift from Australia that will be coming in and also from North America," McCartney said.

Next month's APEC summit will also put Hawaii in the international spotlight.

"APEC will help define Hawaii as not only a leisure destination, but a place where people can come and do business," said McCartney.

There was a dramatic decline in one area. The number of visitors arriving on cruise ships dropped 29% compared to last September.

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