Hawaii Tourism: Visitor spending declined 6.2 percent in April 2019

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Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands spent a total of $1.33 billion in April 2019, a decrease of 6.2 percent compared to the same month last year, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).

Tourism dollars from the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) also helped to fund events and initiatives statewide in April, including the Merrie Monarch Festival, Celebration of the Arts Festival, Kau Coffee Festival, Honolulu Biennial, and the LEI (Leadership, Exploration, and Inspiration) Program, which encourages Hawaii high school students to pursue careers in travel and hospitality.

In April, visitor spending increased slightly from the U.S. West (+1.0% to $553.3 million) and Japan (+0.4% to $156.5 million) but declined from U.S. East (-7.9% to $285.8 million), Canada (-2.4% to $97.1 million) and All Other International Markets (-22.9% to $229.5 million) versus last year.

On a statewide level, average daily visitor spending was down (-9.2% to $188 per person) in April year-over-year. Visitors from U.S. East (-7.6% to $201), U.S. West (-6.4% to $172), Canada (-4.0% to $153) and All Other International Markets (-18.1% to $229) spent less per day, while daily spending by visitors from Japan (-0.1% to $232) was similar to a year ago.

Total visitor arrivals rose 6.6 percent to 856,250 visitors in April, supported by growth in arrivals from both air service (+5.8% to 831,445) and cruise ships (+46.3% to 24,805). Total visitor days1 increased 3.4 percent. The average daily census2, or the number of visitors on any given day in April, was 227,768, up 3.4 percent compared to last year.

Visitor arrivals by air service increased in April from U.S. West (+12.4% to 390,802), U.S. East (+2.4% to 157,256), Japan (+2.1% to 115,078) and Canada (+6.9% to 55,690), but declined from All Other International Markets (-6.1% to 112,620).

Among the four larger islands, visitor spending on Oahu decreased (-1.2% to $626.8 million) in April despite growth in visitor arrivals (+8.7% to 494,192) compared to a year ago. This was also true for Maui, as visitor spending declined (-4.6% to $394.4 million) while arrivals increased (+5.2% to 249,076). The island of Hawaii recorded decreases in both visitor spending (-20.5% to $154.8 million) and visitor arrivals (-14.2% to 131,499), as did Kauai with its visitor spending (-14.8% to $134.2 million) and visitor arrivals (-4.8% to 106,009).

A total of 1,112,200 trans-Pacific air seats serviced the Hawaiian Islands in April, up 2.5 percent from a year ago. Growth in air seats from U.S. West (+4.3%), U.S. East (+2.5%) and Japan (+0.7%) offset declines from Other Asia Markets (-12.5%) and Oceania (-6.5%). Seats from Canada (+0.3%) were comparable to April 2018.

Other Highlights:

U.S. West: In April, visitor arrivals from the Pacific region were up 13.7 percent year-over-year, with growth in visitors from California (+19.2%), Alaska (+11.4%) and Washington (+3.5%). Arrivals from the Mountain region rose 4.3 percent, with more visitors from Nevada (+58.1%) offsetting fewer visitors from Utah (-9.6%) and Colorado (-6.1%).

Year-to-date through April, visitor arrivals rose from the Pacific (+9.5%) and Mountain (+6.4%) regions versus the same period last year. Average daily visitor spending declined to $177 per person (-4.0%) compared to the same period last year as a result of decreases in lodging, food and beverage, transportation, and entertainment and recreation expenses.

U.S. East: In April, there were more visitors from the Mid Atlantic (+14.1%) and South Atlantic (+6.9%) regions but fewer visitors from the West South Central (-6.5%), East South Central (-4.3%), East North Central (-4.0%) and New England (-1.8%) regions compared to a year ago.

Year-to-date through April, visitor arrivals increased from most regions except for the New England (-1.9%) and Mid Atlantic (-1.3%) regions. Average daily visitor spending declined to $208 per person (-2.7%), largely due to decreases in lodging and transportation expenses.

Japan: Visitor arrivals in April were boosted by the start of Golden Week, traditionally a period of growth for outbound travel. Golden Week is a string of four holidays that occurs from April 29 through May 5 each year. The combination of holidays and weekends creates a longer-than-normal vacation period that is favorable to long-haul destinations like Hawaii. This year, visitors traveling to the Hawaiian Islands for Golden Week began arriving on April 27. More visitors stayed in hotels (+1.9% to 95,437), timeshares (+6.7% to 6,857) and rental homes (+72.9% to 817) in April, while stays in condominiums (-5.8% to 13,006) were down versus last year.

Year-to-date through April, average daily visitor spending declined to $236 per person (-2.8%), primarily due to lower lodging and transportation expenses.

Canada: In April, visitor stays increased in hotels (+8.0% to 23,588), timeshares (+4.1% to 4,217), with friends and relatives (+32.6% to 2,570), and bed and breakfasts (+28.5% to 1,060), while stays in condominiums (-2.9% to 17,953) and rental homes (-7.6% to 8,583) declined.

Year-to-date through April, average daily visitor spending declined to $167 per person (-1.9%), due to lower lodging and shopping expenses.

MCI: A total of 39,466 visitors traveled to Hawaii for meetings, conventions and incentives (MCI) in April, down 25.5 percent from a year ago. Convention visitors decreased significantly (-53.8%) compared to April 2018 when more than 10,000 delegates attended The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology event at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Year-to-date through April, total MCI visitors dropped slightly (-0.6% to 198,392) from the same period last year.

[1] Aggregate number of days stayed by all visitors.
[2] Average daily census is the average number of visitors present on a single day.

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