Maui visitor arrivals, spending up in May

Maui visitor expenditures in May rose 10.9 percent to $283.4 million compared to 2013, while visitor arrivals rose 3 percent to 187,744, a marked improvement from declines for most months this year, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority reported Friday.

The agency also said that it revalidated monthly visitor statistics for 2013 and the first five months of this year due to a contractor not following procedures in collecting data for Maui, Daniel Naho’opi’i, director of tourism research for the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, told The Maui News on Friday.

There were issues with the raw surveys, he said.

“We are not sure if some were falsified,” Naho’opi’i said.

There is a complaint that an employee of one of HTA’s research contractors may have submitted invalid survey data, HTA said. That resulted in an adjustment to visitor expenditures for Maui island between June 2013 and May, which prompted adjustments to statewide visitor spending.

HTA said that the contractor currently is under review by the state Department of the Attorney General.

Naho’opi’i said that the data was excluded and replaced with other sources of information.

Generally, the revised data for Maui showed higher visitor expenditure and arrival numbers, Naho’opi’i indicated. The revised data was more in line with a poll of Maui hotels and restaurants, he added.

For the May report, Maui visitor daily spending was $199 per person, a 1.9 percent jump from May 2013. The average length of stay grew 5.6 percent compared to 2013 to 7.59 days, the highest of all major islands for May.

For the other islands in the county for May, Lanai reported a near-flat visitor arrival total of 5,462 and visitor expenditures of $4.8 million, down 15.4 percent from last May. Molokai visitor arrivals for May were at 4,613, up 6.9 percent, and visitor expenditures were up 16.1 percent to $2.5 million. (Because of small numbers of arrivals, percentage changes on Molokai and Lanai swing wildly.)

Statewide, visitor spending was $1.1 billion, up 5.1 percent from May 2013. Total arrivals grew 1.8 percent to 649,125 visitors – 642,091 by air and 7,034 by cruise ships.

Hawaii’s biggest source of visitors, the U.S. West, declined again in May, 0.6 percent, to 264,297. Totals from the U.S. West have declined since August. A bright spot is that those visitors are spending more, up 10 percent to $155 per person.

Areas showing increases in May were the U.S. East, up 1.1 percent to 144,020 visitors, and Japan, up 3.9 percent to 113,713, though Japanese visitors’ daily spending decreased 3.4 percent to $280 per person.

Air capacity to Hawaii in May grew 4.2 percent to 898,847 seats. For Kahului Airport, the totals were up 11.3 percent to 149,009.

Four cruise ships visited the islands in May, bringing 7,034 visitors to Hawaii, compared to two visits and 4,088 visitors in May 2013.

* Lee Imada can be reached at