Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightVisitors traveling in the Hawaiian Islands spent $1.1 billion during September, a jump of 15.6%, or more than $146.5 million over the same month last year, while total visitor arrivals to the Aloha State climbed 6.1%.

Generally seen as the start of Hawaii’s fall shoulder season, September helped boost overall visitor spending by 20% through the third quarter of 2012, according to preliminary statistics released recently by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).

“Double-digit increases in visitor expenditures across the four major islands and Molokai for September contributed to an increase of $1.7 billion, to $10.7 billion, in year-to-date spending over 2011,” said Mike McCartney, the HTA president and CEO, in a statement. “While arrivals increased at a slower rate than recent months, we were extremely pleased that the pace of expenditure growth has not weakened.”

Visitors traveling to Hawaii from the U.S. West increased 3.1% year over year in September, the 11th consecutive month of growth from the destination’s largest source market, but arrivals from the U.S. East slipped 1.9%.

The number of Canadian visitors traveling to Hawaii also declined year over year in September, dropping 2.2%, while the Islands saw a 9% jump in arrivals from Japan, the Aloha State’s largest source of international travelers.

Despite the mixed data emerging from Hawaii’s four major visitor markets, McCartney was upbeat about the remainder of 2012.

“As we head into the fourth quarter, we anticipate the momentum to continue with increases in airlift thanks to new routes by Hawaiian Airlines from Sapporo [Japan] and Brisbane [Australia], Allegiant Airlines from the West Coast, and Jetstar from Melbourne [Australia],” McCartney said. “These new routes are all servicing secondary cities, which will provide greater ease of access for visitors to come to the Hawaiian Islands.”

Increased airlift helped Pleasant Holidays improve its business to Hawaii in September, according to company President and CEO Jack Richards.

“We’ve had a phenomenal 2012 and were up about 4% year over year in September,” he said. “If you just look across the board in terms of seats to the Islands, particularly now from Alaska and with Hawaiian’s change to newer airplanes, airlift is driving a lot of growth to the Hawaiian Islands.”

Richards said Pleasant has also “absolutely” seen increased demand for neighbor islands thanks to more direct service across the state.

“I think many people want to avoid Honolulu,” he said. “And if they can go nonstop to a neighbor island, whether it be Kauai, the Big Island or Maui, that’s what they want to do. If you look at the three biggest markets, which are the Pacific Northwest, Northern and Southern California, they now clearly have a lot of options to bypass Honolulu.”

Total air seats to the Islands jumped 10.4% year over year in September.

To check out the HTA’s September visitor statistics, visit
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