West Coast arrivals up slightly from last year

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HONOLULU -- The West Coast continues to carry the torch for Hawaii tourism.

Even though the overall number of visitors to the state has dropped, Hawaii is holding its own with domestic arrivals, particularly those from the western U.S.

The West Coast, which is Hawaii's largest market, realized a 2.2% uptick in visitors to the islands this year compared with the same period last year, with 1.5 million arrivals counted through July, according to statistics from the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT).

Pearl Imada Iboshi, an economist with the DBEDT, attributed the relative stability of tourism from the West Coast to a combination of marketing efforts and restored air service.

"Hawaii was fortunate that only a few flights from the U.S. market were canceled after Sept. 11. All of these seats have been restored, and a few others have been added," Imada Iboshi said.

The number of scheduled seats from the west increased about 1% during the first seven months of this year, with the addition of nine daily flights and three weekly flights.

In addition, the launch of service from new gateways such as Denver, Salt Lake City and Burbank, Ontario and Sacramento, Calif., contributed to the growth.

Arrivals from the East Coast, however, dropped 6% from the same period last year, with 991,489 visitors through July.

Imada Iboshi cited easterners' continued desire to stay close to home as a reason for the downturn.

Overall, domestic arrivals were down 1.4% for the first seven months compared with 2001, the report said.

Meanwhile, international arrivals dropped precipitously, down 19.2%, with double-digit decreases seen from Japan and Canada.

Arrivals from Japan plummeted 21.5%, with 1 million arrivals through July.

Imada Iboshi said Japan Airlines, Hawaii's largest international carrier, intended to restore full service from Japan for the summer but decided to maintain its 19.5% flight reduction in response to low load factors.

Canadian visitors also tended to vacation closer to home this year, Imada Iboshi said, resulting in a steep 17.1% drop in arrivals.

Total visitor expenditures for the year have dropped 6.1%, to 5 million, according to DBEDT figures, and average daily spending has been flat, at $176 per person.

Eastern U.S., Canadian and Japanese visitors all spent more per day, but expenditures for visitors from the western U.S. dropped by 13.8%, according to the report.

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