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County sees small drop in visitors in 2007

February 12, 2008
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
Counting Molokai and Lanai, Maui County welcomed 2,577,-827 tourists last year.

That was a small drop from record-setting 2006, down 0.8 percent, but earlier reports from the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism showed that Maui revenue from tourism was down 4.3 percent.

Since several resorts were torn down or closed for rebuilding during all or part of the year, it is hard to make a direct comparison between 2006 and 2007.

But the statewide total of arrivals, 7,368,048, was down, 1.2 percent.

State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert called the year “stable . . . especially coming off of two robust years of growth.”

Maui County was down 6.1 percent in December to 218,781.

DBEDT compiled the numbers.

Another way to judge the market is to compare the ratio of visitors among the four counties.

A decade ago, the ratios were close to whole numbers: Oahu got twice the numbers of Maui, while Maui got as much as Kauai and the Big Island combined.

That ratio survived for years, even when Kauai and the Big Island swapped last place after Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

The 2007 numbers no longer match the old ratios closely.

Oahu attracted 4.6 million visits, not nearly twice Maui’s 2.6 million.

On the other hand, Kauai and Hawaii together logged nearly 2.9 million, more than Maui’s total.

Although the numbers look precise, they are really extrapolations from surveys, and DBEDT cautions that the samples from Molokai and Lanai are so small that they are less reliable than the numbers from the bigger islands.

Molokai’s head count totaled 79,158, down 6.9 percent. But total visitor spending of $37.5 million was up 10.2 percent.

Per-person-per-day spending was $108.70, up 8 percent.

Lanai got 93,884 visitors, up 0.8 percent. Total visitor spending was $100.1 million, up 30.7 percent. Per-person-per-day spending was $320.20, by far the highest in the state.

Maui reaped a total of $3.37 billion from visitors (not counting air travel costs), down 4.3 percent.

Per-person-per-day spending was $192, down 2.5 percent.

Oahu traffic of 4,596,330 was down 0.7 percent. Visitor spending of $5.7 billion was up 1.9 percent, and per-person-per-day spending was close to Maui’s at $184, up 5 percent.

Maui’s room rates are much higher, but Oahu visitors buy more stuff.

The Big Island attracted 1,598,831 visitors, up 0.1 percent. Total spending was just under $1.7 billion, up 3.9 percent, and per-person-per-day spending was $167.30, up 5.6 percent.

Kauai had 1,271,399 visitors, up 5.9 percent. They spent $1.3 billion, up 4.5 percent. Per-person-per-day spending was $165.10 percent, up 0.2 percent.

The sum of head counts in the counties exceeds the statewide total because some people visit more than one island.

n Harry Eagar can be reached at


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