Read us | Listen to us | Watch us | Join Live Events | Turn Off Ads | Live |

Click on your language to translate this article:

Afrikaans Afrikaans Albanian Albanian Amharic Amharic Arabic Arabic Armenian Armenian Azerbaijani Azerbaijani Basque Basque Belarusian Belarusian Bengali Bengali Bosnian Bosnian Bulgarian Bulgarian Catalan Catalan Cebuano Cebuano Chichewa Chichewa Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional) Corsican Corsican Croatian Croatian Czech Czech Danish Danish Dutch Dutch English English Esperanto Esperanto Estonian Estonian Filipino Filipino Finnish Finnish French French Frisian Frisian Galician Galician Georgian Georgian German German Greek Greek Gujarati Gujarati Haitian Creole Haitian Creole Hausa Hausa Hawaiian Hawaiian Hebrew Hebrew Hindi Hindi Hmong Hmong Hungarian Hungarian Icelandic Icelandic Igbo Igbo Indonesian Indonesian Irish Irish Italian Italian Japanese Japanese Javanese Javanese Kannada Kannada Kazakh Kazakh Khmer Khmer Korean Korean Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kyrgyz Kyrgyz Lao Lao Latin Latin Latvian Latvian Lithuanian Lithuanian Luxembourgish Luxembourgish Macedonian Macedonian Malagasy Malagasy Malay Malay Malayalam Malayalam Maltese Maltese Maori Maori Marathi Marathi Mongolian Mongolian Myanmar (Burmese) Myanmar (Burmese) Nepali Nepali Norwegian Norwegian Pashto Pashto Persian Persian Polish Polish Portuguese Portuguese Punjabi Punjabi Romanian Romanian Russian Russian Samoan Samoan Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic Serbian Serbian Sesotho Sesotho Shona Shona Sindhi Sindhi Sinhala Sinhala Slovak Slovak Slovenian Slovenian Somali Somali Spanish Spanish Sudanese Sudanese Swahili Swahili Swedish Swedish Tajik Tajik Tamil Tamil Telugu Telugu Thai Thai Turkish Turkish Ukrainian Ukrainian Urdu Urdu Uzbek Uzbek Vietnamese Vietnamese Welsh Welsh Xhosa Xhosa Yiddish Yiddish Yoruba Yoruba Zulu Zulu

Hawaii Tourism Authority estimates 3 percent drop in 2009 arrivals

hawaiiwaikiki_0
hawaiiwaikiki_0
Written by editor

If current tourism patterns continue, state tourism officials expect the number of visitors coming to Hawaii this year to reach about 6.5 million, or about 207,000 fewer people than last year.

If current tourism patterns continue, state tourism officials expect the number of visitors coming to Hawaii this year to reach about 6.5 million, or about 207,000 fewer people than last year.

That’s according the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s chief of marketing, David Uchiyama. He said that would be about 3 percent down from the previous year but pretty close to 2003-04 levels.

The global economic crisis has plunged tourism โ€” along with many other industries โ€” into a decline. Last year, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism logged 10.8 percent fewer visitors. So far, that agency is projecting a decline this year of just under 6 percent.

Uchiyama provided recent statistics to about 250 industry members attending yesterday’s Spring Marketing Update at the Hawaii Convention Center.

The agency will make similar presentations to about 70 people on Maui today and then in west Hawaii.

Uchiyama said there are bright spots among the gloom. He cited stabilized numbers of air seats between Hawaii and the mainland.

At a meeting this month, he learned that US Airways plans to add two flights a week later this year to Maui and Kauai. He said that will double the current flights for that carrier.

Uchiyama also said WestJet is looking at adding flights from Canada in the fourth quarter of this year and into the new year.

And he said the Delta/Northwest merger could result in fewer flights since both carriers separately fly here. But Uchiyama said a new Atlanta-Hawaii flight is being planned.

He cited these positive factors: oil prices have dropped, the honeymoon market is up especially from the high-spending Japan market, and the timeshare market is providing a steady flow of visitors.

He acknowledged that Hawaii battles with the “boondoggle effect” in which companies or organizations under scrutiny for financial matters are reluctant to come to the islands because it could be perceived as a junket vacation instead of business.

In the push to separate the state from other sun, sand, and surf destinations, Uchiyama said it’s important to keep cultural integrity and “clearly define what differentiates us from other copycat destinations.”

Takashi Ichikura, executive director of Hawaii Tourism Japan, said the 10.3 percent decline in air seats has hurt but the strength of the yen, popularity of hula, ukulele, and cultural interest will help.

The Tourism Authority’s Asia marketing specialist, Michael Merner, said the tremendous potential expected from easing of travel restrictions for travelers from Korea and China has been muted by the current global economic crisis. Merner said in Korea, the won/dollar exchange rate plunged, making a trip to the US 40 percent more expensive than just six months ago.

While the visa waiver program will improve things, Merner expects it will be two to three years before the number of travelers from Korea doubles. “The impact has been delayed,” he said.

A similar expected big increase in China visitors has been slowed by financial concerns, he said.