Following three consecutive record-breaking years, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) anticipated that visitor arrivals and expenditures would begin flattening in 2015. In comparison to last January, arrivals dipped less than 4,000 visitors (-0.6%) and total expenditures dropped to $1.4 billion (-2.5%). These slight declines resulted from a reduction in international air seats (-0.9%) and the continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies in January.
The only trend-buckers from the statewide stats in January were Maui and Moloka’i. And that’s good news. Visitor expenditures on Maui rose 6.1 percent to $438.5 million. Arrivals grew 6.8 percent to 211,032 visitors and included more day trip visitors (+12.1%) than in January 2014. Daily spending increased 1 percent to $218 per person.
Ronald Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Hawaii Tourism Authority, issued the following statement: “Despite softening travel from the international markets, additional airlift from our core U.S. market (+9.2%) helped to maintain arrivals from the U.S. West (+3.9%) and U.S. East (+0.8%) markets in January. This included increased air capacity to the neighbor islands, which contributed to continual growth in arrivals and expenditures.
“The HTA continues to engage its airline partners in coop opportunities and discussions on maintaining and stimulating travel demand and distribution to all Hawaiian Islands, especially with current lower fuel costs.
“While the HTA projects flat or slight, year-over-year growth through 2015, continual slower growth raises concerns for 2016 and onward. Recognizing the cyclical pattern of the tourism industry, the HTA will continue to work with its global contractors and industry partners to address ways to sustain Hawaii’s tourism economy.
“In an effort to offset changing travel trends and boost arrivals from our international markets, the HTA will be launching a “Stories of Hawaii” online campaign at the end of this month, through June. The campaign will utilize search engine marketing and social media components to generate interest and drive demand from audiences with less awareness about the Hawaiian Islands,” Williams added.
The HTA and its global contractors for North America, Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Oceania, Europe and Latin America will be presenting their market updates and industry partner opportunities during the 2015 Spring Marketing Update on Wednesday, March 11 at the Hawaii Convention Center. Due to limited seating capacity, registration for this free event is available through Monday, March 2. The meeting will also be broadcast live via webinar. To register for the meeting or webinar, visit the HTA website and click on the “Spring Marketing Update” tab.