Maui visitor spending jumps 10% for half year

Visitor spending for the first half of 2014 on Maui grew nearly 10 percent to $2.1 billion while visitor arrivals remained virtually unchanged compared with 2013 at 1.2 million visitors, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported Monday.

The visitor spending was boosted by 3 percent growth in length of stay to 8.4 days, a 6 percent hike in per person per day spending to $206 and a 10 percent jump in per trip spending to $1,730.

“Despite these gains, we are cognizant of changing trends in visitor length of stay and spending,” said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “Visitors are exercising more caution in keeping within their budget threshold as the cost of a Hawaiian vacation increases, competition from alternative destinations grows and the U.S. dollar becomes stronger against foreign currencies.”

Looking ahead, HTA anticipates a bump in air seats from North America in the latter half of 2014, specifically from Los Angeles and Seattle, McCartney said in a news release. The hike in air seats is due to increased competition at major airport hubs and the redeployment of aircraft used for international flights.

Recently, Hawaiian Airlines added a second flight between Los Angeles and Kahului Airport from Nov. 20 to Jan. 12, and Delta Air Lines is adding one daily flight between Seattle-Tacoma International and Kahului airports beginning Dec. 20.

Total air seats to Kahului Airport rose 2.9 percent for the January-to-June period, according to the report.

For June, Maui visitor spending rose 1.1 percent to $331 million with arrivals falling 1.5 percent to 208,674, compared with June 2013, according to the report. Per person per day spending rose 2.3 percent to $199.6 and per person per trip spending grew 2.7 percent to $1,586.

On the other islands in the county, Molokai showed increases in visitor arrivals and visitor spending for both June and the half year while Lanai logged significant decreases.

Molokai logged a 5 percent increase in arrivals to 28,534 for the January-June period and a 6.4 percent increase to 4,886 visitors in June, compared to 2013, according to the report.

Visitor spending on the Friendly Isle rose 8.4 percent to $17 million for the half year compared with 2013; for July, spending rose 10 percent to $3 million.

The picture is different on Lanai with half-year visitor spending down 14 percent to $34.5 million and off 28 percent to $5.4 million for June, compared with 2013.

Visitor arrivals on Lanai tumbled 13 percent to 32,569 for the first six months of 2014 and 31 percent in June to 4,871, compared with June 2013.

Looking at the statewide picture, visitor expenditures grew 2.5 percent to $7.4 billion, led by a 2.3 percent hike in average daily spending of $196 per person for the half year.

Visitor arrivals were 4.1 million visitors, about the same as last year for the January-to-June period.

In June, visitors to Hawaii spent $1.3 billion, about the same as last June, while arrivals grew 1.9 percent to 725,066.

McCartney said that more visitors are booking travel in a shorter time frame of 30 days to six months, which causes uncertainty in forecasting for the second half of the year.

“Maximizing the momentum that Hawaii’s tourism economy experienced last year will be a priority for us as we look to the latter half of 2014 and 2015,” he said.