Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightHawaii visitors spent a record-breaking $1.16 billion across the Aloha State in April, a surge of 26.8% over same month last year and an improvement of more than $200 million on the former April peak expenditures figure set in 2007.

The destination also toppled the existing April arrivals record, welcoming 647,194 visitors during the month this year and surpassing the 2006 high by nearly 30,000 travelers, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) May 31.

“We were pleased to see the increases in spending and arrivals throughout all of the Hawaiian Islands, providing an economic boost across the state,” Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “It is important that we continue to support efforts that help to balance airlift and room availability for the overall benefit of our state’s tourism economy.”

Reflecting, in part, the substantial plunge in Japanese visitors to Hawaii last April, following that country’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, spending was up by double digits to all six of the state’s visitor-ready islands this year, and Oahu, which hosts the most Japanese visitors annually, saw expenditures jump 31.5% year over year.

Overall arrivals from Japan were up 36.2% statewide, with spending by those visitors soaring 45.8%. The number of Japanese visitors who traveled to multiple islands in April also shot up 66% from the same period a year ago.

Total arrivals increased 3% from the U.S. West in April while those from the U.S. East inched up 1.8% year over year. Travelers from Canada, Hawaii’s fourth-largest source market, grew 3.3%.

“The increases in airlift to the Hawaiian Islands with new routes as well as the move to larger aircraft were significant contributors to a robust April,” McCartney said. “And we anticipate the growth to continue into May.”

Air seats to the state were up 3.1% in April, and 15 out-of-state cruise ships toured the Islands during the month, boosting cruise-related arrivals to the state 66.3% over the same month a year ago. Cruise visitor days also rose 18.4%.

Meetings, conventions and incentive arrivals continued downward, however, sinking 14.5% in April. Through the first four months of 2012, those numbers were off 6% year over year.

“We continue to monitor the meetings, conventions and incentives market, as we look to build business in future years with an emphasis on 2016, 2017 and 2018,” McCartney said. “Fine-tuning our efforts in this market will enable us to sustain and expand a strong foundation for Hawaii's visitor industry.”

Year to date through April, total visitor expenditures across the state climbed 16.7%, to $4.78 billion, while total arrivals grew 9.4% to more than 2.6 million visitors.
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