Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

According to a report released March 31 by the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, total expenditures from visitors arriving in Hawaii by air during February fell $161 million, or just under 16%, when compared with the same period in 2008.

Overall the state welcomed a total of 513,279 visitors arriving by air, a decline of 13.4% from last year, who in turn spent a total of $825 million in February. Average daily spending dropped during the month from $180 per person last year to $175 this year.

"Hawaii's visitor industry continued to be impacted by unstable economic conditions worldwide," said Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison, in a statement. "February's results were not unexpected and included a 'leap year effect' of one less day in the month this year compared to February 2008."

The DBEDT's report reflected declines in air arrivals from all four of the state's top markets. Visitors from the U.S. West dropped 14.9% while arrivals from the U.S. East were off 15.9%. Arrivals by air from Japan slipped 5.5%, and visitors from Canada fell 6.3%. And while those deficits undoubtedly impacted the report's bleak spending figures, Weinert suggested another variable.

"The reduced per-person, per-day spending and the overall decrease in visitor expenditures can be partially attributed to the great value packages being offered," Wienert continued. "Spending by visitors from the U.S. West and the U.S. East on accommodations decreased, and U.S. West visitors also spent less on shopping."

Weinert also pointed out some of the report's positive news.

"Japanese visitor expenditures on shopping, however, increased $9.27 per person, per day," she said. "We are also pleased that Japanese honeymooners continued to grow, up 6.2% in February, resulting in a 23.4% increase year to date."

Another bright spot appeared in the total number of arrivals by ship during the month: 13,943 people came to Hawaii aboard seven ships during February, an increase of 29.1% compared with 2008's numbers.

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