Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightHawaii’s tourism industry needed just 11 months last year to break the destination’s annual visitor expenditures record, generating $12.9 billion in spending through the end of November and eclipsing the previous full-year peak of $12.6 billion set in 2007.



“Visitor expenditures through November [were] $2.1 billion more than the same period last year,” Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) president and CEO, said in a statement. “Every day for the first 11 months of the year, visitors who came to the Hawaiian Islands by air spent $193 [each], which is $16 more per day than last year.”

Total visitor arrivals also increased substantially, jumping 9.9% year over year through November, to roughly 7.3 million people, according to preliminary statistics released by the HTA late last month.

The Aloha State set its all-time annual arrivals mark of 7.6 million visitors in 2006.

“In July, the HTA board of directors approved aggressive targets to reach 7.89 million visitors and $13.9 billion in [visitor spending],” McCartney added. “At the current pace, we anticipate reaching, if not exceeding, these targets.”

McCartney said visitor growth to Hawaii from both Asia and Oceania in 2012 was “tremendous,” crediting more flights and increased capacity from those markets for the spike in arrivals.

Meanwhile, arrivals from the U.S. West, Hawaii’s largest source market, were up a solid 6.5% through November, while those from the U.S. East increased 3.4%, bolstered by a nearly 5% increase in air seats arriving to the Islands from the U.S. mainland.

“Overall we’re doing very well to Hawaii, and we’re starting to look at low double digit increases for 2013 if the trends continue,” said Jim Tedesco, the marketing director for Gogo Worldwide Vacations, noting that his company’s core business comes from the East Coast.

“It’s been great having Hawaiian flying direct from New York and United’s new nonstop flights to Honolulu from Washington D.C.,” he continued. “Both of those have definitely helped production.”

Hawaii has also benefitted from dramatic shoulder season growth in 2012, and November was no exception, generating a 14.5% jump in arrivals year over year and a 22.7% surge in spending to just over $1.1 billion for the month.

For the HTA’s complete November visitors report, visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/research/research/visitor-highlights.
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