*logoVisitors arriving in Hawaii by air during the first three months of 2009 spent $2.6 billion, down 17.9% from the same period last year.

According to a report released April 28 by Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), the total number of visitors arriving in March also declined, by just over 17%. Those who did arrive spent $800.1 million during the month, off 24.4% from March 2008.

"March visitor statistics continue to reflect the impact global economic conditions are having on our economy," State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert said. "It’s important to keep in perspective that part of the decline in visitor arrivals this past March can be attributed to the fact that spring break and the Easter holiday, which were largely in March last year, shifted to April this year."

March arrivals from three of the state’s top four visitor markets fell when compared with 2008 totals. Visitors arriving by air from the U.S. West sank 22.7%, while those from the U.S. East and Canada dropped 20% and 3.8%, respectively.

Arrivals by Japanese visitors grew slightly, up .6% from March 2008, representing the first increase from that market since May 2008.

"It’s encouraging that for the first time in almost a year, Japanese arrivals showed growth, partially because of the strength of the yen and the success of this year's Honolulu Festival," Wienert said.

"Another bright spot is the continuing growth in the number of Japanese honeymooners to the islands, which was up 22% in March and 23% for the first quarter of this year. Also, the number of Japanese visitors who came here to get married rose 11% in March."

According to the DBEDT’s report, total arrivals by air and cruise for the first quarter of 2009 fell 14%, to 1.6 million visitors. Average daily spending was $170 per person, down about $9 a person when compared with 2008’s figures.

Maui saw the most drastic dip in March arrival and spending totals: Visitors were down 25.8%, while arrival expenditures slumped 30% from last year, to $228.2 million.

On Kauai, spending fell 26.8%, to $80.8 million, and its arrival figures sank 24.7% for the month.

The Big Island hosted nearly 18% fewer visitors in March, resulting in $105.5 million in spending, a loss of 21.9% when compared with 2008.


Oahu welcomed 16.3% fewer visitors in March who, in turn, spent $376.7 million, 20.2% less than last year.

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