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January visitor expenditures up compared to 2009


Total expenditures by visitors who came by air in January 2010 rose 3.5 percent ($33.5 million) from the same month last year to $983.3 million, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

This was the second straight month of positive growth in visitor spending since ATA and Aloha airlines ceased operations in April 2008.

Contributing to the growth in visitor spending in January 2010 was a 2.9 percent increase in total visitor days. In total, there were 532,737 visitors in the islands up 2 percent from January 2009.

Among the top four visitor markets, arrivals by air from U.S. West rose 2.2 percent from January 2009. Arrivals from U.S. East (-2.7%) and Japan (-0.6%) were lower compared to last January while arrivals from Canada increased by 17.7 percent.


* Higher average daily spending ($146 per person in January 2010, versus $137 per person in January 2009) and increased visitor arrivals (+2.2%) contributed to an 8.5 percent growth in total spending by U.S. West visitors to $315 million in January 2010. Also contributing to the increased spending was a 5.1 percent growth in visitors to Maui. On average Maui visitors spend more than visitors to the other islands.

* U.S. West visitor arrivals increased eight out of the past nine months since May 2009. In January 2010 arrivals from the Pacific region rose 3.6 percent due to positive growth in visitors from Oregon (+8.7%), Washington (+6.9%), Alaska (+4.4%), and California (+1.2%). Arrivals from the Mountain region were down 2.5 percent from last January.

* Fewer U.S. West visitors in January 2010 stayed in hotels (-1.4%) while more stayed in condominium (+5.2%) and timeshare (+1.7%) properties compared to January 2009.

* Total spending from U.S. East visitors in January 2010 decreased 2.9 percent to $283.5 million.

* Losses in arrivals were not evenly distributed across U.S. East, with greater declines from the second tier Mid Atlantic (-8.4%) and West North Central (-7%) regions. Decreases from the top U.S. East regions of East North Central (-1.5%) and South Atlantic (-2.8%) were not substantial while arrivals from the West South Central (+4.3%) and East South Central (+1.9%) regions showed positive growth compared to last January.

* Total spending by visitors from Japan fell 17.3 percent to $132.7 million in January 2010. The decrease was largely due to much lower daily spending by these visitors ($262 per person) compared to $308 per person in January 2009. The higher visitor spending in January 2009 was attributable to a rapid decrease in the yen to dollar exchange rate that resulted in a surge in yen buying power. While the yen to dollar exchange rate remains strong, its value has stabilized resulting in a more controlled visitor spending pattern.

* Japanese visitor arrivals have been relatively stable with small decreases in January 2010 (-0.6%) and December 2009 (-0.6%) proceeded three consecutive months of positive growth from September to November 2009, compared to the double-digit losses earlier in 2009.

* Much of the improvement in Japanese arrivals was due to a large increase in Free and Independent Travelers. In January 2010, more Japanese visitors came as independent travelers (+43.3%) compared to last January. This was the seventh consecutive months of strong growth since July 2009.

* The number of Japanese timeshare visitors for all of 2009 jumped 74.8 percent from 2008. This trend continued in January 2010 with a 91.2 percent surge in Japanese timeshare visitors compared to a year ago.

* Total spending by Canadian visitors in January 2010 climbed 23.6 percent to $105.9 million. Higher average daily spending by these visitors ($151 per person, compared to $141 per person in January 2009) contributed to this increase.

* The 17.7 percent growth in Canadian arrivals was the largest increase since July 2008 (+19.8%).

* The Canadian market is typically seasonal with December through March being the busiest months for visits to Hawaii. In 2009 spending by Canadian visitors accounted for about 6 percent of total spending by all visitors. In comparison, in January 2010 the share of Canadian visitors spending rose to 10.7 percent of total visitor spending.

* The main neighbor islands saw positive visitor arrival growth in January 2010, led by Hawaii Island (+4.8%), Maui (+2.4%) and Kauai (+1.4%). In contrast, total visitor arrivals to Oahu were flat (-0.2%) but visitor days rose 3.8 percent due to a longer average length of stay by visitors on this island (8.26 days versus 7.94 days in January 2009).

* There was a substantial increase in total visitor spending on Hawaii Island (+15.3% to $144.8 million) and Maui (+5.7% to $267.5 million) compared to last January. Increased arrivals from international visitors who are typically higher-spenders, contributed to the growth in visitor expenditures on these islands.

* U.S. West arrivals on Maui rose 5.1 percent compared to January 2009, higher than the statewide increase of U.S. West visitors of 2.2 percent.

* Arrivals from U.S. East was flat on Kauai and were much lower on all other islands relative to the statewide decline of 2.7 percent for this visitor market.

* Japanese arrivals to Maui rose by double digits (+20.4%) and increased 2.2 percent on Hawaii Island but declined on Kauai (-13.5%) and Oahu (-3.5%) compared to January 2009.

• Arrivals from Canada showed significant increases on Hawai‘i Island (+37.7%) and Kaua‘i (+24.4%) compared to last January, largely due to more seat capacity.

* Total air seats for January 2010 increased 2.1 percent from last January.

* Seat capacity from U.S. East jumped 54 percent from last January due to more flights out of Houston and Charlotte. There were also more seats from Canada (+60.5%) with additional service out of Calgary and Victoria; and Other Asia (+20.9%).

* A total of 20,297 visitors came by cruise ships or arrived by air to board a Hawaii home-ported cruise ship in January 2010, an increase of 5 percent from last January.

* The number of cruise visitors who came by air to board cruise ships in the islands increased 20.4 percent from January 2009.

* Visitors who came by cruise ships declined 9 percent from last January to 9,193 in January 2010 even though the number of cruise ships remained the same (6 ships). Two out of the six ships that came in January 2010 were small (capacity of less than 1,000 passengers), while all six ships in January 2009 were large ships.

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