August visitor numbers down, but spending up

Published: Sep. 23, 2011 at 1:20 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 23, 2011 at 10:01 AM HST
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Mike McCartney
Mike McCartney

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This year is still one of positive numbers for Hawaii's tourism industry, even though August's visitor totals fell short of those posted a year ago.

"In August, we see a little flattening of arrivals, especially from the West Coast," said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "But we have some good news in that we have new airlift from Asia, and that's moving forward."

August's visitor numbers were off 4.2 percent from a year ago. That included a ten percent drop in West Coast arrivals. However, those fewer visitors were spending more. Expenditures during the same period were up 2.3 percent.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, visitor expenditures are also up for the year through August, boosted by big increases in spending by Canadian and Japanese visitors in particular, thanks to a good money exchange rate.

"I think the most important news for all of us is visitors are spending $16 more a day, every day, in Hawaii," McCartney said. "That's about a billion dollars more in our economy this year than last year."

In actual numbers, visitors spent $8.25 billion, up 14.1 percent from the same period last year. The number of days visitors spend in Hawaii is up four percent. And the number of visitors is still up 2.5 percent from last year, to just under 4.9 million.

The Tourism Authority believes the momentum will continue, thanks to aggressive marketing and more flights coming to Hawaii.

"We have a new Asiana flight coming in from Korea," McCartney said. "We have new airlift coming from Japan. And we're looking forward to some new lift out from Australia. And our course, our China flights are coming in. So that's a big positive for Hawaii."

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