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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hawaii visitor arrivals up 1.6 percent in November

Advertiser Staff Writer

The number of visitors to Hawai'i rose 1.6 percent in November while year-to-date arrivals remain slightly below 2005's record pace.

Visitors spent more during their trips here last month and through the first 11 months of this year, according to figures released released yesterday by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

While still strong, the numbers provide further proof that Hawai'i's biggest industry is peaking after several years of rapid growth.

Hawai'i took in 571,552 visitors last month, which was up 1.6 percent compared with November of last year. Hawai'i hosted 6.75 million visitors during the first 11 months of the year, which was down 0.1 percent from last year.

Mainland arrivals grew 2.4 percent to an eleven-month record of 4,967,222 visitors. But that was offset by a 6.4 percent decline in international arrivals. Japanese visitor arrivals, which have fallen all year, were down 8.9 percent year to date.

Visitor spending rose 3.5 percent to nearly $1.1 billion in November. Visitors spending increased 3.3 percent to $10.9 billion in the first 11 months of 2006, compared to the same period last year. Spending increases came from the U.S. West, U.S. East and Canadian visitor markets, while total visitor spending by Japanese visitors fell 5 percent.

In an encouraging sign first-time visitors to Hawai'i increased to 36.1 percent in November, compared to 34.8 percent in November 2005, said State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert.

"It's very encouraging to see the increase in first-time visitors to Hawaii, since historically these visitors tend to spend more on a daily basis," she said in a written statement. "The increase in first-time visitors may account for the phenomenal growth in group tour visitors as well as the first positive growth in visitors to O'ahu since April of 2006."

Total visitor days, which is considered a good gauge of the tourism industry's economic contribution, increased 1.5 percent in November to about 5 million, but remained down 0.2 percent on the year.

Total cruise visitors rose 30.1 percent to 365,790 visitors, including those who arrived by air to board cruise ships and those who came on the ships. These visitors were aboard 52 cruise ships including three U.S. flagged ships home ported in Hawai'i, the Pride of Aloha, the Pride of Hawaii and the Pride of America.