Visitor spending, arrivals continue on an upward trend

The Trilogy VI sails under an afternoon sun Thursday afternoon off of Lahaina Harbor. Visitor arrivals to Maui increased 2.6 percent to 261,964 in July, compared with the same month last year. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Visitor spending on Maui island grew 8.4 percent to $432.5 million in July, compared with the same month last year, an increase fueled by a 1.6 percent increase in visitor days and a 6.7 percent jump in daily visitor spending to $212 per person, according to monthly statistics released Thursday by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

Also in July, visitor arrivals to Maui were up 2.6 percent to 261,964, compared with July 2016. And, there were more visitors to the island from Japan (up 24.7 percent), the East Coast (up 8.7 percent) and the West Coast (up 3 percent); but there were fewer arrivals from Canada (down 9.3 percent).

For the first seven months of the year, visitor spending on the Valley Isle increased 5.3 percent to $2.84 billion and arrivals rose 3.3 percent to 1,622,565.

Both Molokai and Lanai saw double-digit drops in visitor expenditures in July compared with a year ago, the authority reported. Spending on Lanai plummeted 38.2 percent to $5.1 million, and expenditures on Molokai were down 13.6 percent to $1.4 million. For the first seven months of the year, however, Molokai has seen a 20.1 percent increase to $21.1 million, while Lanai has taken in 6.8 percent more to $47.9 million.

Visitor arrivals on Lanai grew 3.7 percent to 5,249 in July, while Molokai saw a 12.1 percent decrease to 4,268. For the year to date, Lanai has seen a 3.2 percent increase to 37,309, and Molokai has welcomed 8.5 percent fewer visitors, 33,018.

Statewide, visitor spending was up 9.8 percent to $1.59 billion in July and up 8.9 percent to nearly 9.95 billion for the year to date. Visitor arrivals grew 6.8 percent to 891,878 in July, and they were up 4.7 percent to almost 5.5 million for the year.

Hawai’i Tourism Authority President and Chief Executive Officer George Szigeti said July is typically a peak month of the year for Hawaii tourism “and one that industry partners count on to generate good results.”

“Even so, the 9.8 percent increase in visitor spending and 6.8 percent increase in visitor arrivals in July completely exceeds any forecasts that were made for the month,” he said, adding that expectations also were surpassed for the islands’ tourism performance for the year so far.

For the first seven months of the year, Hawaii’s tourism industry has generated $1.16 billion in state tax revenue, an increase of $94.8 million over the same period last year, Szigeti said.

Among statewide visitor market highlights was the authority’s report that Canadian visitor nights in hotels grew by 2.6 percent in July, while their use of rental homes was up 28.6 percent and time-share units was up 24.9 percent.

Meanwhile, more visitors from Japan were staying in condominiums (up 25.7 percent) and time-share properties (up 24.7 percent).

Of Hawaii’s major tourism markets, visitors from the East Coast posted the largest gain in visitor spending in July (up 21.7 percent to $452.5 million). And, visitor arrivals from the region were up 11 percent to 208,530, thanks in part to increased air seat capacity from Dallas and Minneapolis.

Visitor spending from West Coast tourists grew 9.5 percent to $598.8 million in July, boosted by a 5.4 percent increase in arrivals to 385,235. Daily spending rose 3.7 percent to $168 per person.

Total air seats statewide went up 3.1 percent to 1,139,710 in July, compared with the same month last year. There were 1.7 percent fewer air seats to Kahului Airport in July and 1.1 percent fewer for the year’s first seven months.

Meanwhile, double-digit percentage growth was seen statewide in scheduled seats from the East Coast (up 21.8 percent) and Japan (up 18.3 percent). Meanwhile, there were fewer seats from Oceania (down 5.1 percent) and the West Coast (down 1.2 percent).

* Brian Perry can be reached at