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HTA releases visitor statistics for December 2009


Total visitor arrivals in December 2009 rose 2.4 percent from last December to 577,657 visitors, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Arrivals by air grew 3.2 percent but arrivals by cruise ships
were 31 percent lower compared to last December.

Overall, total visitor days were up 1.7 percent from December 2008. The average length of stay by all visitors was 10.27 days, slightly lower than the 10.34 days in December 2008.

Increased arrivals by air contributed to a small rise (+0.5 percent or $5 million) in total visitors expenditures to $955.2 million. The average daily spending by these visitors was $163 per person, down from $167 per person in December 2008.

Among the top four visitor markets, arrivals by air from U.S. West grew 3.6 percent from December 2008. Arrivals from U.S. East (+0.7%) and Canada (+4.3%) also increased while arrivals from Japan dipped slightly (-0.6%) from last December.

For all of 2009, there were a total of 6,514,382 visitors to the islands, down 4.5 percent from 2008. Arrivals by air for 2009 declined 4.4 percent to 6,419,138 visitors while arrivals by ship dropped 13 percent to 95,244 visitors.

Total visitor days decreased 4.3 percent in 2009. However, the average length of stay, at 9.43 days, was essentially the same as 2008.

Total spending by air visitors was $9.9 billion for 2009, a decrease of $1.3 billion or 11.7 percent from 2008. Average per person per day spending by air visitors dropped to $163 per person from $177 per person in 2008.

Among the top four visitor markets, arrivals by air from U.S. West declined 1.8 percent in 2009. Arrivals from U.S. East (-7.2%), Canada (-5.8%), and Japan (-4.9%) also decreased from 2008 levels.

Total Visitors

• For all of 2009, convention visitors fell 1.1 percent due to decreases from U.S. West (-9.3%), U.S. East (-5.8%), and Canada (-4.3%), partially offset by growth in Japanese convention visitors (+38.8%). The total number of visitors in the islands for corporate meetings (-26.6%) and incentives (-37.7%) were significantly lower compared to calendar year 2008.

• More visitors came to honeymoon in December 2009 (+3%) compared to the same month last year. Total honeymoon visitors for all of 2009 rose 3.5 percent compared to 2008, mainly due to growth in honeymoon visitors from U.S. West (+1.7%) and Japan (+5.4%) offsetting declines from Canada (-4.3%) and U.S. East (-2.8%).

• Most accommodations benefitted from increased total visitor traffic during the month of December 2009: hotels (+3.4%), condominium properties (+6.2%), timeshare (+2.7%) and bed and breakfast properties (+41.7%). For calendar year 2009 only timeshare properties (+3.9%) and friends/relatives (+3%) showed growth in total visitors while hotels (-5.3%), condominium (-7.9%) and bed and breakfast (-10.6%) properties dropped compared to 2008.

• The total number of visitors who went on group tours in calendar year 2009 fell 19.8 percent compared to 2008.

• The total number of independent travelers in 2009 declined 2.3 percent compared to the previous year. Significantly more Japanese visitors traveled independently (+16.7%) in 2009 but were offset by fewer independent travelers from U.S. West (-1.7%), U.S. East (-5.7%) and Canada (-4.8%).

Major Marketing Areas

• Expenditures from U.S. West visitors for all of 2009 totaled $3.5 billion, down 10.8 percent from 2008. Total spending from U.S. East (-16.2% to $2.7 billion), Japanese (-10.5% to $1.74 billion) and Canadian (-15.6% to $600.1 million) visitors were also lower than 2008.

• Japanese (-7.3% to $267 per person), U.S. East (-9.4% to $166 per person),
Canadian (-8.5% to $140 per person) and U.S. West (-8.7% to $134 per person) visitors who came in calendar year 2009 spent less on a daily basis compared to 2008.

• Despite the overall decline for the year, there were improvements in visitor arrivals by air in the later part of 2009. Among the top four visitor markets, U.S. West visitor arrivals improved from double-digit decreases in the first quarter of 2009 to positive growth in arrivals for seven out of the last nine months of the year.

• A total of 2,718,404 U.S. West visitors came in calendar year 2009. Arrivals from the Pacific region fell 1.3 percent due to decreases in visitors from California (-4.3%) that offset increases from Washington (+6.2%), Oregon (+2.8%) and Alaska (+17.8%). Arrivals from the Mountain region were down 5.2 percent from 2008.

• For all of 2009, there were 1,561,292 U.S. East visitors to the islands. Growth in arrivals from the West South Central (+3.2%) region were offset by lower arrivals from East North Central (-12%), East South Central (-9.4%), South Atlantic (-9%), New England (-7.6%) and Middle Atlantic (-6.7%) regions compared to 2008.

• The Japanese market which was impacted by an H1N1 flu scare, showed significant losses in visitor arrivals in the first half of 2009 but showed three consecutive months of arrival growth from September to November 2009.

• A total of 1,117,159 visitors came from Japan in 2009. These visitors stayed 5.83 days, longer than the 5.74 days in 2008.

• Year-over-year growth in Japanese timeshare visitors for December 2009 (61%) continued a trend of double-digit increases since September 2008. For all of 2009, Japanese timeshare visitors jumped 74.8 percent from last year.

• The Canadian market showed growth in arrivals in three out of the 12 months in 2009. There were 338,807 Canadian visitors to the state in 2009.

Island Highlights

• Total visitor expenditures on O‘ahu in December 2009 was $488.8 million, virtually the same compared to last December. Total expenditures on Maui decreased 4.3 percent to $230.5 million. Total visitor spending on Hawaii Island increased 12 percent to $131 million while total visitor spending on Kauai grew 3 percent to $95.4 million.

• Visitor arrivals to Oahu ended the year very strong with a 4.9 percent increase in December and positive growth in the last four out of six months.

• Visitors arrivals to Kauai (+4%) and Hawaii Island (+3.7%) also increased but
declined on Maui (-1.5%) compared to December 2008.

• All islands experienced growth in U.S. West arrivals in December 2009 compared to last December. Arrivals from U.S. East also were also higher on most of the islands with the exception of Maui (-4.3%).

• Japanese arrivals to Maui (+26.7%) and Kauai (+23%) rose by double digits. Arrivals from Japan were steady on Oahu (-0.1%) but declined on Hawaii Island (-5.2%) compared to December 2008.

• Arrivals from Canada grew on Kauai (+15.8%), Oahu (+6.5%), and Hawaii Island (+4.1%) but declined on Maui (-4.3%) compared to December 2008.

• For all of 2009, total visitor expenditures on Oahu declined 10.9 percent from 2008 to $5 billion. Total expenditures on Maui fell 13.6 percent to $2.5 billion. Total visitor spending on Hawaii Island decreased 11.6 percent to $1.3 billion while total visitor spending on Kauai dropped 9.8 percent to $1 billion.

• For calendar year 2009, only arrivals by U.S. West visitors to Oahu were stable while visits from other visitor markets to all islands were down. Among visitors to the four larger islands, Oahu also showed the smallest decline for U.S. East and Japanese visitors. For Canadians, the smallest decline in visitation occurred on Maui.

Total Air Seats to Hawaii

• Total air seats for the month of December 2009 was virtually unchanged (+0.1%) from same month last year.

• Seat capacity from U.S. East increased (+10.4%) but U.S. West decreased (-3.0%). There were also more seats from Japan (+3.6%), Canada (+9.2%) and Other Asia (+23.8%). However, there were fewer seats from Australia/New Zealand (-8.9%) mainly due to fewer flights out of Sydney.

• Air seats to Lihue (-5.9%) and Honolulu (-0.6%) decreased but seat capacity to Kona airport (+5.8%) and Kahului (+3.1%) increased compared to December 2008.

• Domestic seats to Kona were up 6.3 percent due to additional service from Oakland while domestic seats to Kahului rose 2.7 percent because of service from Oakland and Chicago.

• For calendar year 2009, total air seats to Hawaii declined 5.6 percent due to fewer domestic (-6.6%) and international (-3.1%) air seats. Total domestic seats declined 6.6 percent due to fewer scheduled seats from U.S. West (-4.9%), U.S. East (-14.7%) and domestic charters (-15.1%). Total international seats fell 3.1 percent due to fewer scheduled seats from Canada (-18.4%), Australia/New Zealand (-12.8%), Japan (-0.5%) and international charters (-47.4%) which were partially offset by more scheduled seats from Other Asia (+20.4%).

• There were fewer seats to Kahului (-9.3%), Honolulu (-6.2%), and Lihue (-1.7%) while Kona airport saw a 10.2 percent increase in seats compared to 2008.

Cruise Ship Visitors

• A total of 17,783 visitors came by cruise ships or arrived by air to board a Hawaii home-ported cruise ship in December 2009, 16.6 percent fewer visitors than last December.

• Five out-of-state cruise ships came to the islands in December 2009 with 8,974 visitors, compared to six out-of-state ships which brought 13,010 visitors last December. This resulted in a 31 percent decline in arrivals by ship in December 2009.

• The number of cruise visitors who came by air to board cruise ships in the islands increased 6 percent from December 2008.

• For all of 2009, a total of 216,152 visitors came by cruise ship or by air to board cruise ships, 18.9 percent lower compared to 2008. Visitor days for all cruise visitors in 2009 decreased 20.2 percent compared to last year. Except for increases in April (+3.5%), July (+17.7%) and September of 2009 (+4.4%), growth in total cruise visitors declined 22 out of the last 25 months since December 2007.

• In 2009, 95,244 visitors arrived on 53 out-of-state cruise ships. This was down 13 percent compared to 109,475 visitors aboard 68 cruise ships that came to the state in 2008. Total visitor days for those who came by cruise ships decreased 15 percent compared to calendar year 2008.

Technical note: The random sampling methodology is not intended to quantify
singular events such as a sports event or convention, but rather, to identify trends taking place across an entire month or on an annual basis. Based on this methodology, while certain events may report increases in attendance; any increases could be offset by decreased attendance at other events. Additionally, events that occur at the end of or the start of a month could result in data being reflected in the subsequent month, i.e. a November event with attendees who stayed through December. Data in this specific instance would be reflected in December figures.

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