Visitor spending down more than half a billion dollars - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Visitor spending down more than half a billion dollars

Melanie and Lynn Evans Melanie and Lynn Evans
Steve Tonne Steve Tonne

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - State leaders report that visitor spending is down more than half a billion dollars so far this year. Tourism leaders say it's a reflection of what's happening across the United States. People are traveling less, and spending less.

The report reflects what you see on the streets of Waikiki. It's not quite a ghost town, but there's noticeably less tourist traffic.

35 years of marriage, and even the troubled economy isn't stopping Melanie and Lynn Evans, a New York couple, from celebrating in paradise. But, they had to tap into their future to do it.

"We borrowed money from my IRA account to come here. We're 53 and I have to work another 12 to 13 years so I wanted to do it now while we were healthy and well able to go out and walk the beaches and swim and see everything while we can," said Melanie Evans.

But many travelers are cutting back on the Aloha experience. According to a report from the Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism, there's a 19% drop in tourists who travel by air. Statistics reflect September numbers compared to the same time last year. The Tonne family from Ohio gives some insight as to why.

"We used to pay about $500 out of Cincinnati. Now it's, we paid about $750 a piece this time," said Steve Tonne.

Despite a drop in visitors and visitor spending, tourism leaders say they're not surprised considering the state of the economy. And while there's now more pressure on tourists' wallets, those who continue to visit paradise say even fears of a recession can't diminish the draw of the islands.

"Just because it's a beautiful place to come to," said Tonne.

"This is absolutely beautiful. The place is just beautiful," said Lynn Evans.

It appears more travelers are staying in condos and timeshares to save money on hotels. September statistics show there's a higher percentage of mainland visitors staying on timeshare properties compared to september of 2007.

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