Increases in visitor spending contribute to industry growth

Visitor expenditures on Maui grew by 8.2 percent to $365.8 million in July compared to the same month last year, while the number of people who visited the island remained stable, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority reported Wednesday.

Visitors are spending about $20 more per person per day than they did a year ago, according to last month’s statistics. For the July report, Maui visitor daily spending was $206 per person per day, up 10.3 percent from July 2013, when average daily visitor spending was $187 per person per day.

“Continual year-to-date increases in per person per day spending and length of stay contributed to a 9.6 percent growth to $2.4 billion in total visitor expenditures for the island of Maui (from January through July),” said HTA President Mike McCartney. “However, arrivals to the island remained virtually unchanged through July 2014.”

Maui saw 225,727 visitors last month, only a fraction of a percentage point more than the 225,274 visitors in July 2013.

The average length of visitor stays dipped slightly last month, about 7.85 days, down two percent from July 2013.

Total visitor expenditures on Molokai and Lanai both dropped in July, though year-to-date numbers show that Molokai is still pacing ahead of last year. Lanai is the only Neighbor Island that is showing less total expenditures in the first seven months of the year, with $39.1 million, down from $47.9 million in the first seven months of 2013.

Molokai saw $2.3 million in total visitor expenditures last month, down from $2.8 million in July 2013.

But the Friendly Isle saw 5,170 visitor arrivals, up 7.9 percent from 4,692. Visitors to Molokai spent less money and less time on the island compared with last year, spending, on average, $119.20 per day and staying for an average of 3.74 days.

Lanai was the only island that saw a decrease in visitor arrivals in July, dropping to 5,500 visitors, 11.5 percent fewer than July 2013. Those visitors stayed an average of 3.17 days on the Pineapple Isle and spent about $264.40 per day. In the same month last year, visitors to Lanai stayed, on average, 3.58 days and spent $342.90 per day.

(A construction boom is ongoing on Lanai, 98 percent of which was bought by billionaire Larry Ellison in June 2012. Work includes a $27 million renovation of the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay.)

“With visitor expenditures up on the Neighbor Islands, with an exception to Lanai, we are pleased that our collective efforts to increase visitor distribution across the state continue to result in increased dollars and other economic benefits to the Neighbor Islands,” McCartney said.

Statewide, total visitor expenditures rose in July to $1.4 billion, continuing an upward record-setting trend. The total was 2.6 percent more than was spent in July 2013. Average daily spending was higher for most visitor markets compared with last year, though the average length of stay dropped 3 percent to 9.12 days.

In a separate report released Wednesday, the average daily room rate for Maui hotels reached a record high for the month of June at $295.40, according to tourism industry consultant Hospitality Advisors.

But hotel occupancy dipped slightly to 67.9 percent in June, 1.7 percentage points less than June 2013. The dip was in line with a 1.5 percent fall in visitor arrivals in June, according to the report.

The occupancy decline outpaced average daily room rate growth, causing the total revenue per available room to slip 0.2 percent to $200.58.

In Wailea, occupancy fell 1.2 percentage points to 69.9 percent for June. The average daily rate in the luxury resort region was $446.46, slightly less than the $448.51 average in June 2013. Still, the area saw the highest average daily room rates in the state.

The occupancy rate for Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua hotel rooms was at 70 percent for June, 1.1 percentage points less than June 2013. The average daily room rate was $259.76, up from $253.19 a year earlier. “Other Maui” hotels saw occupancy fall 2.2 percentage points to 65.5 percent, with an average daily room rate of $337.72.

Statewide, hotel occupancy was at 76.3 percent, with an average daily room rate of $235.82 and a revenue per available room of $179.93.

STR Inc. compiled the hotel survey in conjunction with Hospital Advisors. For June, the survey included 165 properties, representing 48,628 rooms, or 90.8 percent, of all lodgings in Hawaii with 20 or more rooms.

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* Eileen Chao can be reached at