Visitor arrivals up, spending down in May

The Valley Isle’s May visitor statistics show a mixed bag of results – arrivals were up 6 percent from May 2012 to 182,461 for the month, but daily spending fell 5.2 percent to $184 per person and the average visitor’s length of stay was 3.6 percent shorter at a little more than seven days.

Monthly statistics released Friday by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority show that the combination of less daily spending and a shorter stay for visitors contributed to a 3.2 percent decline in total visitor expenditures to $241.4 million in May.

“Consumers have become more cautious of their spending as the price of a Hawaii vacation continues to increase, resulting in a shorter length of stay and reductions in daily visitor spending,” said Mike McCartney, the tourism authority’s president and chief executive officer.

He pledged that, in order for Hawaii to maintain its share of the visitor market, the authority would continue to work with airlines and others in the tourism industry “on developing marketing programs that stimulate interest and drive demand to all of the Hawaiian Islands.”

The authority attributed Maui’s increase in visitor arrivals to more tourists from the U.S. West (up 2.4 percent to 91,296), the U.S. East (up 6.3 percent to 51,134), Canada (up 8.6 percent to 11,976) and Japan (up 33.7 percent to 6,937).

A factor in the higher arrivals is likely an increased number of available airline seats to Maui – up 2.7 percent from May 2012 to 134,627 seats for Kahului. Total air seats also were up for the month for Honolulu (plus 10.4 percent to 632,023) but declined for Lihue (minus 7 percent to 44,332), Kona (minus 6.4 percent to 41,782) and Hilo (minus 22.9 percent to 4,239).

Statewide, visitor arrivals in May were up 3.7 percent to 645,711; average daily spending slipped 1.9 percent to $187 and the average length of stay was down 2.3 percent to 8.68 days, the authority reported. Overall expenditures for the month were off 0.6 percent from last May to a little more than $1 billion.

Maui’s percentage increase in visitor arrivals in May was second only to Kauai, which saw a 7.1 percent increase to 91,258, or roughly half of the Valley Isle’s arrivals.

Oahu’s visitor arrivals grew 5.4 percent in May to 418,217, and the Big Island’s arrivals were up 4.4 percent to 109,022. Visitor arrivals were down on the two other islands in Maui County – off 3.8 percent to 5,422 on Lanai and off 1 percent to 4,254 on Molokai.

Total expenditures were up on both Lanai and Molokai in May compared with May 2012. Lanai saw a 13.8 percent increase to $5.5 million, and Molokai brought in 2.1 percent more to $2.2 million. May visitor spending was down on both Oahu (minus 1.3 percent to $568.9 million) and Kauai (minus 8.2 percent to $104.4 million), but up on the Big Island (17.4 percent to $125.6 million).

For year-to-date arrivals by air, Maui County saw 1,008,896 visitors, or an increase of 4.6 percent from January through May, compared with the same period in 2012. For the same period, Oahu was up 6.4 percent to 2,059,046; Kauai was up 5.1 percent to 454,071; and the Big Island was up 4.1 percent to 622,186.

For the year to date, Maui island’s total visitor expenditures increased 0.8 percent to nearly 1.6 billion, while Molokai’s visitor spending rose 17.1 percent to $14 million and spending on Lanai was down 9 percent to $34.1 million.

* Brian Perry can be reached at