BY MARSHA WIENERT – Hawai’i’s summer travel season began early with a stellar performance in May, especially among international visitors from Japan and Canada, as well as emerging markets of China and Korea.
Anticipated increases in visitor arrivals and expenditures this summer will benefit almost every sector of our economy and will assist in its overall improvement.
Tourism’s positive performance in May reinforces our optimism in Hawai’i’s improving economy. May, a traditionally slower tourism month, exceeded expectations and resulted in a 17.4 percent increase in visitor spending of $127.7 million. This increase in visitor spending, which was a direct result of increased visitor arrivals and daily visitor spending, is the largest gain in expenditures we have seen since before tourism began declining in 2008.
The 6.5 percent increase in total arrivals was spurred by a 21.6 percent increase in international visitors. Visitors from Japan, Hawai’i’s largest international market, increased 25.6 percent in arrivals and 31.8 percent in visitor expenditures. Japan was followed by Canada, which showed increases of 14.6 percent in arrivals and 23.2 percent in expenditures. Our ongoing efforts to build relationships in the developing markets of China and Korea have resulted in increased visitor arrivals from these two countries. Due to this increased demand, Korean Air will be adding seat capacity this summer and there is strong interest in direct air service from China to Hawai’i.
This is very encouraging and we anticipate continued growth from these international markets of China and Korea, as well as Japan.
Marsha Wienert is the state tourism liaison.