Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 16, 2003

Spending by tourists increases 6.8 percent

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i's tourism industry spending rebounded slightly last year, though the level of visitor expenditures were lower than anticipated.

Total visitor spending, including visitors arriving by air and cruise ships, rose 6.8 percent to more than $9.8 billion in 2002, according to unofficial figures the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is expected to release Monday.

The expenditures are below a prior estimate for last year of $10.3 billion, and are lower than the $10.9 billion posted in 2000.

Overall spending rose last year because of increases in the number of visitors and their length of stay, said Eugene Tian, tourism research manager for DBEDT. Some of those gains were offset by a change in the way the state calculates visitor spending figures, which also led to a significant delay in the release of the 2002 data.

Visitor spending information is a key resource for the state's tourism industry because it gives businesses information needed to make inventory, marketing and staffing decisions.

Under the new formula for visitor spending, DBEDT includes the effect of a visitor's length of stay and the number of people in a particular party. That caused the 2002 visitor spending figure to be lower than previously forecast and also resulted in a downward revision of the 2001 spending figure, previously set at $10.1 billion.

"The more people in a party, the less they spend," Tian said. "The longer they stay, the less they spend. So that's the major reason for the change."

Despite the change in methodology, spending by visitors who traveled to the state by air rose 6.6 percent because of an increase in visitor days by Mainland tourists. That offset a weaker, but recovering international sector, Tian said.

The average daily spending of visitors improved to $163 a person last year, compared with $159 a person in 2001, in part because of increasing room rates.

Spending by visitors who arrived via cruise ship, which represented only one-half percent of total visitor expenditures, soared 42.6 percent from the previous year to $44.1 million. That was mainly because of a surge in cruise visitors and an increase in their average daily spending from $86 a person to $99 a person.

The tourism spending figures also will be released later than normal because they incorporate data gathered from two new recent visitor surveys of the Neighbor Island and cruise ship markets, Tian said.