Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightVisitor arrivals fell for the third month in a row across the Aloha State this August, dropping 4.2% year over year, to 651,529 for the month.

Spending was up slightly, however, climbing 2.3% from August of last year, to $1.08 billion, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority late last month.

“Despite the decline in visitor arrivals for August, total arrivals and spending for all of 2011 to date remains up over 2010, with a 14.1% increase in overall spending and an average daily spending level of $178,” Mike McCartney, the HTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “And we remain confident that the projected increases for the remainder of the year will help Hawaii achieve our 2011 targets.”

Year to date through August, visitor arrivals to the state increased 2.5% over the same eight-month period in 2010, to a total of 4.9 million.

McCartney said most of the HTA’s confidence regarding the rest of this year stems from recent airlift increases from key Asian markets, including Japan, Korea, and China, along with new flights from Australia.

“We also expect continued growth in visitor spending, in part due to the advantageous monetary exchange rate for markets such as Japan and Canada,” he added. “This has played a major role in the increase in daily and overall spending, resulting in $1 billion more to our state’s economy compared to the same time last year.”

The total number of Canadian visitors traveling to Hawaii jumped 15.7% in August, and spending from that market climbed 12.5% year over year.

Arrivals from Hawaii’s largest source market, the U.S. West, sank 10% in August, the largest drop since a 23.2% plunge in March 2009, and spending by U.S. West visitors fell 6.4%.

Among Hawaii’s other major markets, visitors from the U.S. East dropped 6.9%, and spending from that market was off by more than 13%. Arrivals from Japan were down just 2.4%, the smallest decrease in four months, and expenditures by Japanese travelers actually grew 2.5% year over year.

Despite the mixed August data, the HTA increased its 2012 spending targets at its board meeting held Sept. 22, upping its total expenditures goal for next year to $13.31 billion. That’s an increase of less than 1% from a 2012 projection made in January and 5.5% higher than the agency’s 2011 target of $12.63 billion.

The HTA also revised its 2012 total arrivals target to 7.69 million visitors, a 1.5% increase over their January estimate and a 3% bump from the 2011 arrivals projection of 7.46 million.

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