Hawaii arrivals dip in 2007; first decrease since 2003

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The number of travelers to Hawaii dipped last year for the first time since 2003, but for the state's tourism officials, it's all part of the plan.

Hawaii is more than willing to trade the plane-loads of mass travelers who helped drive its arrivals numbers to a record high of 7.4 million over the last few years for a lesser number of high-end, high-spending visitors from the mainland U.S. and Canada, according to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau's tourism marketing plan for North America leisure travel.

"We continue to be encouraged by the increase in visitor spending, as well as ongoing growth in the number of visitors from markets such as Canada, Hawaii's fourth largest market, and the strong performance of Hawaii's cruise industry," said State tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert.

While total visitor arrivals dropped 1.2% to 7.3 million in 2007, arrivals from Canada climbed by 5.3%, according to preliminary statistics released Jan. 29 by the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Arrivals from the West Coast were up less than 1%, while arrivals from the East Coast were down 3.3%. In addition, arrivals from Japan, which have been consistently off, fell 3.5% from 2006. Kauai was the only island with increased arrivals from all four markets.

Daily spending statewide increased 2.5% to $182 per person. Per-day spending was up among all markets, with Canadian visitors showing the largest increase at 5.5%; the Japanese visitor spent the most per day at $269, an uptick of 1% over 2006.

The number of cruise visitors grew 20.6% to 501,698 in 2007. That number included passengers who flew to the state to board cruise ships or came by cruise ships visiting Hawaii. In 2007, there were 77 cruise ship arrivals, compared to 64 in 2006.

The average length of stay across all islands was virtually unchanged at 9.15 days.

To contact reporter Margaret Myre, send e-mail to [email protected].

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