APEC: No measurable bump yet

Published: Nov. 10, 2011 at 10:45 AM HST
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By Howard Dicus

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waikiki hotels are filling up with APEC attendees, but there is not yet any measurable bump in statewide visitor arrivals, nor is it yet clear how many Waikiki restaurants or shops will be helped or hurt by the event's special security-related disruptions.

Arrivals by air data, posted by the state on Wednesday, showed very low international arrivals on Monday and Tuesday, including 3,495 international arrivals by air Tuesday, the lowest level since June 1.

Hawaii usually gets more than 4,000 arrivals a day from Japan alone, and often total international arrivals top 5,000, even in the off-season. But Japan arrivals have been down more than 10 percent in recent days, offsetting one third higher arrivals from other countries to produce total international traffic down 0.4 percent for November to date.

Mainland traffic for November to date is down 1.4 percent to Oahu. Ironically it is up to Maui County, the Big Island and Kauai, which have been concerned about being left out of "the APEC bump."

Most of the official APEC delegations are scheduled to arrive Friday, so it is by no means too late for summit traffic to offset any decline in traffic from regular vacationers. Those who are here are expected to be among the bigger spenders of Hawaii visitors, based on survey data, and officials have always said they thought the principal economic benefit of the summit would come in the future as summit attendees returned for regular vacations or other business meetings. But Waikiki businesses are hoping they don't suffer from security and traffic control efforts.

Anecdotal evidence is contradictory. A waiter at Jimmy Buffett's reported high-tipping international visitors in recent days. Small businesses in the immediate vicinity of the Hawaii Convention Center reported lack of walk-in traffic because regular customers were avoiding the area. The owner of a bar within walking distance of the Hilton, Prince and Ilikai hotels said she stocked up on food and drink but really had no idea whether she would wind up getting more trade than usual or less.

Because arrivals data don't tell how long people stay or how much they spend, the next useful bit of information will come from Hospitality Advisors, which does weekly reports on hotel occupancy. The Friday report will cover the seven days to last Sunday, including the arrival of many people attending the summit, and the report one week after that will show later arrivals including leaders and their coteries.

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