A total of 494,376 visitors arrived in Hawaii by air and cruise ship during September, an increase of 7.2% from the same month last year.
According to monthly research conducted by the state's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, total visitor days for those arriving to the islands by air and cruise increased 4.8% from September 2008.
"For the fifth consecutive month, we have seen an increase in arrivals from the U.S. West out of some of our key areas, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, that we have focused our marketing efforts on," Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO, said in a statement.
"And there was an increase in air arrivals from U.S. East of 6.9% that is directly related to the number of visitors who came from the U.S. East to attend conventions, including the American Dental Association Convention," McCartney added. "Conventions business increased 140.6%, or by 7,842 visitors, over last September."
Average daily spending by visitors during the month, however, was $171 per person, dropping $15 from last September. Year-over-year total expenditures for the month fell $22.7 million, or 3%, to $737.1 million.
McCartney said the decline in total visitor expenditures was a source of ongoing concern for state officials but insisted the September figures were no surprise, attributing falling revenues to lower prices offered by a Hawaii visitor industry fighting for market share.
"In an effort to remain competitive in the short term, Hawaii's visitor industry was forced to re-evaluate and reposition its product offerings, which often resulted in the reduction of rates," McCartney said. "This repositioning in the global marketplace is helping Hawaii remain competitive in the short term, maintain and even increase market share, and ensure that airlift capacity to our state is preserved. In the long term, these efforts will keep us engaged with our audience, helping us to improve visitor expenditures in the future."
Through September, year-to-date spending from visitors arriving to Hawaii by air has dropped $1.3 billion, or 14.6% year over year, to a total of $7.4 billion.
In addition to the increased air arrivals from the East and West coasts, up 10.1%, the state saw a 16.7% jump in visitors from Japan thanks to that country's "Silver Week" vacation and the continued strength of the yen.
Air arrivals from Canada remained essentially unchanged, falling less than 1%, while those from all other destinations sank 9.5%.