Maui sees growth in visitor arrivals and expenditures

Maui’s tourism industry experienced a robust 8 percent growth in visitor expenditures while maintaining a modest 2.3 percent growth in visitor arrivals in 2013, compared to 2012, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority data.

Visitor expenditures for the year were $3.7 billion, with 2.4 million visitors to Maui, the HTA report released Thursday said. Average length of stay remained steady at 8.2 days, up 0.9 percent from 2012, and daily spending grew 4.6 percent to $194.

Per person spending per trip was $1,582, up 5.5 percent in 2013, and the highest in the state.

“The growth on Maui is evidence of HTA’s efforts to distribute visitors across all the Hawaiian Islands,” said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive officer of HTA, in a statement.

Statewide, the tourism industry set new records for visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2013. Visitors spent $14.5 billion in Hawaii last year, up 2 percent, and contributed $1.5 billion in state tax revenue, which also was up about $30 million from 2012, said McCartney.

There were 8.2 million arrivals in 2013, up 2.6 percent from 2012, the report said.

Hawaii’s largest tourism market, Oahu, had a 5.1 percent decline in visitor spending to $7.3 billion, while experiencing a 4 percent growth in arrivals, compared to 2012, to 5.1 million.

“While we are pleased that we surpassed our 2012 record numbers, we fell short of our 2013 targets,” McCartney said. “Fluctuations in currency exchange rates, taxes and fuel surcharges have slowed bookings and hampered growth, causing a leveling off throughout the second half of 2013.”

He said the HTA anticipates the trend to continue through the first half of the year, especially during the normally slower months of April and May.

“We continue to work with our marketing contractors to review and adjust our plans to stimulate the markets in light of current economic and global trends,” he said.

That includes looking to “pivot our focus towards Asia and other developing markets,” he said. Much of the growth in tourism arrivals in 2013 was attributed to international markets.

McCartney said HTA efforts to add international airline seats to Hawaii and to work on media and travel trade familiarization tours and promotions reaped rewards, particularly in Oceania (up 29 percent, 353,065 visitors) and China (up 13.5 percent, 132,634 visitors).

The state’s largest market, the U.S. West, grew 1.3 percent to 3.2 million visitors, but most of that was in the first half of the year. U.S. East arrivals were about the same as 2012 at 1.7 million.

For the other islands in the county for 2013:

* Lanai logged the highest per person spending per day, $335, up 10.5 percent from 2012. Total visitor spending was $87 million, up 9.5 percent, and arrivals were up 2.6 percent to 74,526.

* Molokai, the smallest visitor market in the state, logged $30.1 million in visitor expenditures, up 6.2 percent. Arrivals were up 3.6 percent to 55,237.

For the month of December, there were 209,332 visitors to Maui, similar to the year prior. Visitor expenditures were up 4 percent to $376.9 million, boosted by a longer average length of stay, up 3.9 percent to 9.18 days. The average daily spending of $196 per person was about the same as December 2012.

There were more visitors to Maui from Canada (up 1.9 percent) and Japan (up 3.8 percent) but fewer from the U.S. West (down 2.2 percent).

* Lee Imada can be reached at