So far this year, Hawaii's peak tourism season of June through August has been anything but, as there was a stunning drop in visitor arrivals and spending in June compared to the same period last year.
Visitors to Hawaii in June dropped 14.2% compared to the same month in 2007, nearly matching what occurred after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“This is as scary as it’s ever been, and it’s going to get scarier,” said Mary Charles, founder of MC&A Inc., a destination management company. Some hotels will experience a 10% to 30% drop in bookings this fall, she said.
Expenditures also dropped 13.5%, or $153.2 million, from the same month last year to $982.4 million, reflecting the drop in visitor arrivals by air.
June’s visitor and spending drops reflects the loss of two Norwegian Cruise Line ships, increased fuel costs and a continued soft travel market, especially from the U.S. mainland, said Marsha Wienert, Hawaii tourism liaison.
Two Hawaii airlines -- Aloha Airlines and ATA -- went out of business earlier this year decreasing the number of flights and seats available, visitor industry officials said.
Air arrivals from Canada, a growing Hawaii market because of the soft U.S. dollar, jumped 18.6% compared with June 2007.
Industry officials have discussed ways to alleviate the crisis, including tax credits, waiving landing fees, reducing prices for transportation and hotel rooms for air crews and even fuel hedging by the state.