Visitors to Hawaii drop 1.4 percent in November

AP News
Posted: Dec 29, 2009 9:32 AM

The number of visitors traveling to Hawaii fell 1.4 percent in November from the same month a year earlier as the weak economy continued to drag down the state's tourism industry.

The decline led visitor spending to shrink 2.2 percent from the year earlier to $771 million, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said Monday.

The number of arrivals from the western part of the U.S. fell 3.4 percent, while those from the East sank 7.8 percent and Canada dropped 7.4 percent.

In contrast, the number of Japanese tourists surged 7.9 percent as the yen remained strong in comparison to the U.S. dollar. A stronger yen makes goods and services purchased in the U.S. cheaper for Japanese travelers.

Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority president, said in a statement that many Japanese also came to Hawaii in December due to the Honolulu Marathon and the New Year's holiday.

Delta Air Lines Inc. has indicated it will add about 200 seats each day on flights from Japan to Honolulu, McCartney said.

Other airlines have also added seats on flights from the U.S. mainland and Canada. McCartney said those airlines are expected to have 497,000 more seats in 2010 compared to this year.

So far this year, 5.9 million people have visited Hawaii, down 5.1 percent from last year.

Marsha Wienert, the state's tourism liaison, said she was pleased that 10 percent more visitors from abroad came to visit Hawaii in November. She noted arrivals from Japan were up for the third straight month.

"Aggressive marketing and increased air seats moving forward allows us to be optimistic that in 2010 we will experience growth in arrivals," Wienert said in a statement.

This will help stabilize visitor spending and lead to an increase in spending by tourists in 2011, she said.