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September tourism arrivals plummet in Hawaii

HONOLULU – Hawaii welcomed nearly one-fifth fewer visitors in September than the same month last year, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported.

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HONOLULU – Hawaii welcomed nearly one-fifth fewer visitors in September than the same month last year, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported.

The 461,051 who came represented a 19.5 percent decline, part of a 9.3 percent drop for the first nine months of 2008.

Among the top four visitor markets, September arrivals from the U.S. East were down 26.2 percent, the largest decrease for the market since September 2001, the department said Monday.

Visitor arrivals from the largest market, U.S. West, dropped 21.5 percent, while Japanese arrivals decreased 19.8 percent and the Canadian market fell 6 percent.

The decreases in U.S. West and U.S. East visitors were partially due to fewer cruise ship visitors in the islands compared to September 2007. There were 7,865 fewer U.S. West visitors and 12,513 fewer U.S. East visitors who either arrived by air to board cruise ships, or came by cruise ship to Hawaii last month.

“September visitor statistics are not unexpected and reflect the continued national and global economic challenges that are affecting tourism worldwide,” State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert said.

“The Canadian market, which has been growing steadily since 2006, also experienced a slight decrease in arrivals this month,” she said. “Compounding the decline was an early Labor Day, which fell on Sept. 1, as visitors arriving for the holiday weekend were counted in August.”

All islands posted visitor declines in September, led by the Big Island, with a drop of 31.5 percent, and followed by Kauai (29.2 percent), Maui (27.3 percent), Molokai (23.1 percent), Lanai (21.6 percent) and Oahu (20.6 percent).

From January through September, total arrivals declined 9.3 percent from the same nine-month period last year to 5.2 million, the department said.

The visitors who arrived in Hawaii by air over the first nine months of 2008 spent $8.7 billion, a $692.5 million, or 7.4 percent, drop from the first three quarters of 2007, it said.

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