Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightThe Aloha State hosted 633,365 visitors in March, a 4.2% increase over the same month last year and welcome news for an anxious Hawaii tourism industry following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami March 11.

According to preliminary statistics released April 29 by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, visitors from Japan were down 17.9% year over year in March, but spending from all markets jumped 11.8%, or $103.5 million, to a total of $980.7 million.

“As expected, Hawaii saw a decline in arrivals from Japan,” Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “To make up for the anticipated loss, the HTA and Hawaii’s visitor industry quickly put into place a recovery plan to harness business from other [major market areas]. Based on the overall positive month, our strategy … has contributed to stabilizing Hawaii’s tourism economy.”

The destination’s first-quarter 2011 figures were even more impressive, as arrivals climbed 9.1% when compared with the first three months of last year and total expenditures surged 16.9%.

“Hawaii’s tourism industry contributed $3.2 billion in visitor expenditures to the state's economy through the first quarter of 2011,” McCartney said. “The month of March represents the 11th consecutive month of double-digit increase in overall spending.”

Among the destination’s top markets, arrivals from Canada soared 34.7% in March, while those from the U.S. East climbed 7.2% and the U.S. West rose 3.4%.

Prior to the significant drop in March, arrivals from the Japanese market had increased year over year during nine out the last 10 months.

“We are pleased with the momentum in the meetings, conventions and incentives market, which also contributed to the positive gains in March,” McCartney said. “As our state gets closer to hosting the 2011 [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] Leaders' Meeting in November, we believe this segment will continue to experience growth and bolster Hawaii’s unique offering as a premier global meetings destination.”

Meetings, conventions and incentives business across the destination in March surged 63.2% when compared with the same month last year.
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