Visitors are at long last returning to Hawaii. This is great news for our State and a mixed blessing for visitors. Here’s what’s happening:
Off Season Spending
In low-season October, for example, visitor spending was up 25% compared to 2009, with 575,000 visitors spending $961 million. We’re seeing consistent month after month increases, such that in the first 10 months of this year, overall spending was up 15%. The greatest growth was from the West Coast, followed by Canada.
October’s growth on an island by island basis was as follows:
- Lanai 22%
- Maui 20%
- Molokai 18%
- Big Island 14%
- Oahu 10%
- Kauai 7.9%
Peak Season Spending
We won’t have high season figures for a bit, but I can read it easily from the ground here in Hawaii. As we get into the first week of Hawaii’s Christmas high season, we are already seeing many sold out car rentals and accommodations. Mainland flights over the holidays have been tight for months and for the most part, have been very expensive. These are further indications of a rebounding tourism economy.
As the overall U.S. economy continues to strengthen modestly, or at least remains stable, visitors are deciding to return to their beloved Hawaii. Clearly these aren’t the same devil may care spenders of the past. More visitors are looking for great deals to motivate their all-important air transportation purchase as well as their accommodations and other expenses.
On an island by island basis, increases we’re seeing are largely proportional to the pricing and availability of “lift” (Mainland air services). At the moment Kauai suffers with the least and most expensive lift, which is therefore dampening its recovery. We’re going to start to see some shifts there, however, as more new routes are announced and those previously scheduled begin to operate.
Part 2: I’ll be back with my suggestions for finding the best Hawaii travel deals during a clearly strengthening tourism economy.
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