Visitor Traffic Decreases, Officials Step Up Promotions

Visitor arrivals to the islands fell 19.5 percent in September compared with the same month last year

It was another rough month for Hawaii’s visitor industry, according to statistics from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Visitor arrivals to the islands fell 19.5 percent in September compared with the same month last year. The downturn follows a 17.3 percent drop in August. Year-to-date through September, the islands welcomed 9.3 percent fewer visitors than the same time period in 2007. Total visitor expenditures by air travelers in September dropped 15.5 percent.

All four of Hawaii’s major islands suffered losses in visitor arrivals and spending in September. Oahu’s arrivals were down 20.6 percent, with a 7 percent drop in expenditures. On Maui, there were

27.3 percent fewer visitors and 23.1 percent fewer expenditures. 

Arrivals on Kauai dipped 29.2 percent while expenditures dropped 5.1 percent. On Hawaii’s Big Island, 31.5 percent fewer people came to call, and spending fell 41.3 percent.

"September visitor statistics are not unexpected and reflect the continued national and global economic challenges that are affecting tourism worldwide," said state Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert. 

"Additionally, the decrease in cruise ships this month greatly impacted arrivals to the neighbor islands, in particular Kauai and Hawaii's Big Island. In total there were 25,777 fewer visitors who either came by cruise ship or came by air to board cruise ships in Hawaii compared to September 2007."

"The Canadian market, which has been growing steadily since 2006, also experienced a slight decrease in arrivals this month. 

Compounding the decline was an early Labor Day which fell on September 1 as visitors arriving for the holiday weekend were counted in August," said Wienert.

Hoping to reverse the trends, Hawaii’s accommodations have been reducing room rates and offering money-saving packages. And, the state’s tourism officials have been stepping up promotions for the islands, pitching the great value awaiting visitors this fall.