By Mike McCartney – The first quarter of 2013 surpassed last year’s record-breaking visitor spending numbers, pouring $279 million more into Hawai‘i’s tourism economy and contributing $29 million in state tax revenue. Every day, an average of $44 million was spent in the state from January through March: $21 million on O‘ahu, $12 million in Maui County, $6 million on Hawai‘i Island and $4 million on Kaua‘i.
While we are pleased that we continue to see growth in visitor expenditures and arrivals month-over-month, we anticipate seeing more moderate growth later in the year. Spending and arrivals have been on the upswing, but there has been a decrease in visitor average length of stay for markets like U.S. West and Canada, which could be an indication that visitors may be reaching their spending threshold. Furthermore, the reduction of service from the U.S. East and U.S. West and the weakening Japanese yen could also have an effect on arrivals and spending this year.
Due to the fragile nature of the tourism economy, the HTA understands the importance of sustaining and diversifying global market share in an industry based on discretionary spending. Therefore, the HTA continues to focus efforts on enhancing meetings, conventions and incentive (MCI) business and distributing visitors across all of the Hawaiian Islands particularly during off-peak seasons. We will also continue our efforts in our core North America and Japan markets, while also growing and supporting airlift from other markets like Oceania, Korea, China and Taiwan, in order to help maintain Hawai‘i’s competitive advantage.
By stimulating commerce and growth for the state’s number one industry, tourism continues to support more than 166,000 jobs for Hawai‘i’s residents. The HTA continues to work with its global marketing contractors and industry partners in order to monitor and sustain smart growth of our state’s tourism economy.
Mike McCartney is President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority