HONOLULU, HI - Nearly 640,000 tourists traveled to Hawaii in April, 2014, roughly the same number that visited Aloha State in April of 2013, but they spent 2.2 percent less than last year.
Mike McCartney, President and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority, issued the following statement today:
"During the first four months of 2014, both spending (-2.9% to $4.9 billion) and arrivals (-2.6% to 2,720,760) have softened compared to the record growth Hawaii's tourism economy experienced in 2013. The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) anticipates a continued slowdown through the second quarter of 2014, a traditionally slower travel period for the state.
Declines in arrivals have been affected by a decrease in Hawaii's cruise business (-18.9%), as the HTA continues to work with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to improve access at Hawaii's harbors. We recently issued a request for proposals for maritime vessel scheduling software, which will help to establish an integrated system that will ease vessel scheduling to optimize the use of dock space to accommodate more cruise ships throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
Other factors affecting visitor arrivals include growing competition, the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against international currencies and other economic conditions.
As a result, the HTA continues focusing on diversifying our international markets by increasing destination awareness and interest in markets like Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Taiwan and Latin America. The HTA recently contracted a general sales agent (GSA) for Latin America and is planning to issue RFPs for representation in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Developing these newer markets creates opportunities for attracting first-time, higher spending visitors to Hawaii.
Strengthening our core markets like the U.S. and Japan also remain a priority for the HTA. Seasonal direct service from the West Coast to Kona and Lihue this summer will help to boost visitor arrivals from the region, and increase distribution across the state. The HTA is also working with the Hawaii Tourism Japan on promoting an Oahu concert with the popular J-Pop group, Arashi, which is expected to attract 15,000 visitors from Japan in September.
Visitor arrivals and expenditures will continue to plateau in 2014, in comparison to the past two record-breaking years. Through the strategic and collective efforts of our industry, marketing and other stakeholder partners, we will continue to work together to balance and strengthen Hawaii's tourism economy."