Tovin Lapan
Tovin Lapan

Hawaii welcomed more than 5 million visitors in the first half of 2019, a greater than 4% increase compared to the first six months of 2018, while visitor spending declined slightly during the same period.

While the Aloha State remains on track to break visitation records in 2019, including eclipsing 10 million annual visitors for the first time, the trend of travelers to the Islands spending less has persisted through much of the early part of the year. Additionally, hotels in Hawaii experienced a 3% dip in total revenue in the first six months of the year.

Nearly 5.2 million visitors came to the Hawaiian Islands from January through June, buoyed by a near 10% increase in visitation from the U.S. West. Meanwhile, those visitors spent $8.88 billion during their stays, a 2% dip from the same period in 2018, according to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Both the total visitor days and average daily census increased more than 1%, but the average daily spend per visitor declined more than 3% to $196.

"The decline was largely due to decreases in lodging and transportation expenses," the HTA said in a statement.

Visitors from the U.S. West, U.S. East, Canada and Japan all increased during the first six months of the year, but visitation from all other international markets decreased nearly 8%. Arrivals by air service (4%) and cruise ship (16%) were both up during the first half of 2019 compared to the year prior.

Among the four most visited islands, Oahu experienced climbs in both total visitors and spending, Maui saw an increase in visitors but decrease in spending, and both Kauai and the Island of Hawaii reported drops in both categories.

June did offer some signs the trend could be shifting. Total spending during the month was up roughly 3% compared to June 2018, while visitation also rose 6%. Maui saw increases in visitors and spending in June, while Kauai remained relatively flat in both areas and Oahu's visitor spending fell 2% as the total visitors climbed 5%. Hawaii Island, which by this time last year was coping with extensive damage on the southeast part of the island due to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, welcomed 9% more visitors and saw a 5% increase in spending in June 2019.

Hawaii's hotels reported a relatively flat average daily rate (ADR) coupled with marginally lower occupancy and lower revenue per available room (RevPAR) through the first half of 2019. While ADR bumped up 1% to $280, RevPAR fell 1% to $226 and the occupancy rate dropped nearly 2 percentage points to 81%. There were approximately 150,000 fewer available room nights (a 2% fall) and more than 284,000 fewer occupied room nights (3.5% decline) compared to the first half of 2018, and Hawaii hotel room revenues decreased 3% to $2.21 billion.

In the first half of 2019, the U.S. West and U.S. East both exhibited double-digit increases in the percentage of travelers staying in rental properties. 

Still, hotels in the Hawaiian Islands recorded the highest average RevPAR and ADR of the top U.S. markets during the first two quarters of 2019. Hawaiian hotels recorded the highest RevPAR and ADR among U.S. markets and the third highest occupancy rate. In June, hotels on the Hawaiian Islands saw growth in all three key categories compared to 2018, with a 4% increase in RevPAR, a 2% jump in ADR, and 2-percentage point rise in occupancy.  

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