Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightHawaii visitors spent $1 billion across the Aloha State this June, an increase of 13.1% compared with the same month last year. Arrivals for the month, however, dropped 3% year over year, according to preliminary data released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority on July 26.

Although visitor totals from three of Hawaii’s four largest source markets sank in June — the U.S. West was off 3.4%; the U.S. East dropped 6.9%; and Japan slid 16.1% — average daily spending climbed more than $20 year over year in June, to a per-person total of $177.

“It is important to note that the average length of stay has increased over 2010, supported by strong arrivals from Australia, China and Korea,” Mike McCartney, the HTA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “There has also been continued growth in per-person, per-day spending due to increased spending for lodging, transportation and food and beverage.”

Year to date through June, Hawaii welcomed nearly 3.6 million visitors, up 4.7% from the first half of 2010.

“An increase of 18.4% in visitor expenditures during the first half of 2011, to $6 billion, is outstanding news for Hawaii’s tourism economy,” McCartney said. “Despite the anticipated leveling-off in overall visitor arrivals this month, we are on target to meet $12.6 billion in visitor spending and 7.3 million visitors by the end of the year.”

The 3.4% year-over-year drop in arrivals from the West Coast was the first decline from that market in 15 months. According to Jack Richards, president and CEO of Los Angles-based Pleasant Holidays, the decline is likely the result of several key factors.

“I think it’s related to a combination of higher airfares, the continued high unemployment in the state of California … and then the uncertainty with the debt ceiling and all that’s going on in Washington,” he said.

“Our group business is down,” he added. “And I think it will continue to be down until they get this debt ceiling settled, because corporations don’t really know what to do.”

Richards said Pleasant’s overall business to Hawaii, however, had been strong this summer and an improvement over last year’s peak season.

“Sales are up but passengers are relatively flat, which suggests that hotel and air prices are up year over year,” he explained. “I think the number we’re looking at is about a 9% increase in transaction value year over year.”

Richardson, much like McCartney, expects a strong second half of 2011.

“We feel very fortunate,” Richardson said. “We’ve had a very, very solid year and a very strong summer, and fall looks very strong. We just finished off our forecasting for the rest of the year, and it looks very good from our seat.”
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