With 2012 beginning to wind down, the State of Hawaii continues to show growth. This trend managed to carry through historically slow times such as this past October. Though October is considered to be a less desirable time of year to visit, arrivals and visitor expenditures did increase from that of last year. Other areas of improvement also included visitors staying in condos and guests getting married here in Hawaii.
Arrivals for the state increased overall by nearly 9%. Each of the four major islands showed an increase in arrivals for the month. The Island of Hawaii led the way with an increase of over 14%. Oahu was next with an almost 8% gain and Maui’s arrivals grew nearly 5.5% compared to October, 2011. Kauai’s arrivals, which had shown considerable gains throughout the year, increased by just 3% during the same time frame. More visitors, nearly 11%, came to visit friends and family during the month as well. This category has grown by almost 5% for the year. As discussed last month, guests making their own travel arrangements have continued to increase. This October was no different, offering an almost 13% gain. It seems that more arriving guests are becoming more comfortable making their vacation plans.
Japanese arrivals grew by over 15% while the Canadian market decreased by just over 4%. Cruise ship arrivals increased by almost 30%. Guests traveling to the state to get married increased this past October by almost 10% and 2.5% for the year thus far. Honeymoon visitors increased by only 1%, but hold strong at nearly 11% for the year.
Expenditures, or overall guest spending, increased statewide by almost 13%. Kauai led the charge for the month, with an increase in guest spending by 18.5%. Though it had a smaller arrival gain, those traveling to the garden isle spent more this last October then they have historically compared to 2011. Maui had the second highest expenditures, offering a 13% increase. Oahu had an 11.7% gain while the Big Island of Hawaii showed just over 10% growth compared to October, 2011.
In regards to accommodation selection, guests staying in condos improved by nearly 10% for the month. The US West market had the greatest influence followed by the Canadian market and then the US East. All of which showed increases of 11%, 3% and 1.5% respectively. Hotel arrivals increased by nearly 7% compared to this time, last year.
There appears to be a shift in both where guests are going and how and where they are spending their money. The slowest or smallest island arrival growth yielded the greatest spending increase, while the largest arrival growth yielded the least amount of spending increases. There are a number of potential reasons for this inverse relationship. Fewer arrivals could cause price increases. This could be an attempt by local businesses to keep up with less demand; realizing arriving guests will spend money to make their vacations more memorable. Perhaps arriving guests are splurging on additional activities they haven’t tried in the past when returning to the islands. Guests also appear to be expanding their island of choice as is the case of the Big Island. Arriving guests may be trying a new environment, spending more to get here and finding ways to save money once they arrive on items such as vacation rentals, fewer costly activities, discounted car rentals and more. With vacation rentals on the rise, guests have the ability to rent a larger space at a greater value with less need to dine out, thus dropping their overall expenditures during their island visit.
As 2012 comes to an end, we will continue to watch this trend to see how 2012 concludes. Either way, the year has been successful for the state as a whole, impacting all areas of the economy hit hard by recent economic conditions. Hopefully this trend will carry into the New Year and beyond.