Hawaii welcomed more visitors this May, but many of those travelers weren’t interested in spending more money and decided to shorten their stay.
According to figures released recently by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), nearly 646,000 visitors traveled to the Aloha State in May, an increase of 3.7% over the same month in 2012, and they spent close to $1.05 billion across the Hawaiian Islands, a slip of less than 1% year over year.
“We were pleased visitor arrivals increased nearly 4% in May, resulting in a 5.7% growth (184,559 more visitors) year to date,” Mike McCartney, the HTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “While visitor spending leveled off in May, tourism still generated an additional $293 million (+5.1%) year to date.”
McCartney did mention some concern, however, about two troubling visitor metrics.
“Consumers have become more cautious of their spending as the price of a Hawaii vacation continues to increase, resulting in a shorter length of stay and reductions in daily visitor spending,” he said.
The average length of stay has dropped 3.1% statewide to just over nine days, through the first five months of the year and per person daily spending dipped 1.9% in May, to $187.30.
According to Jerry Gibson, area vice president and managing director for Hilton Hawaii, the first quarter of 2013 “was very, very good across the state and we did very well” but, due in part to a weaker Japanese yen, the second quarter hasn’t measured up to expectations.
“In April and May we encountered a little bit of softness,” he told Travel Weekly. “But on the island of Oahu we expect a very good summer.”
Gibson said he was concerned about some group business softness at the tail end of this year’s third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter, and the planned capacity reductions from the U.S. West Coast to the Hawaiian Islands by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines later this fall were another worry.
Barry Wallace, the executive vice president of hospitality services for Outrigger Enterprises Group, is also expecting a strong summer for his company’s Hawaii properties. He told Travel Weekly he was optimistic about business to the destination this fall as well, but said the shoulder season was still beyond the company’s prime booking window.
Meanwhile, Outrigger officials have noticed a reduction in airfares to Oahu for the second half of June, July and August — Hawaii’s peak travel season — over the last couple of weeks.
“While that’s a good thing because it leaves room for last-minute bookings, it suggests that overall there is some softness in the market that nobody anticipated,” Wallace said. “Whenever we see discounted airfare rates in the peak seasons, it makes us wonder whether some of the airlines are going to move some capacity elsewhere.”