Pro Bowl visitor, spending numbers down
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lynda Arakawa
The NFL Pro Bowl drew about 19 percent fewer visitors to the state this year who spent about 16 percent fewer dollars.
About 20,650 tourists came to Hawai'i to watch the game, generating an estimated $33.26 million in direct visitor spending, according to a survey commissioned by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority.
Those numbers are down from last year's Pro Bowl, which drew 25,400 tourists for the game and pumped an estimated $39.45 million into the Hawai'i economy.
Hawai'i Tourism Authority President and CEO Rex Johnson said the agency isn't sure why the game drew fewer tourists, but suggested some may have had problems finding available hotel rooms or air seats. He noted O'ahu's tight hotel room inventory and added that air seats from the Mainland have declined a bit from last year.
"I don't think we have any concern about the appeal of the Pro Bowl," he said. "These are still very, very strong numbers, and so, no, we don't have any concern. We're just a little perplexed why those numbers went down."
This year's all-star game on Feb. 12 drew 48,864 spectators, including almost 27,000 visitors, according to the study by Market Trends Pacific Research. Of those visitors, 20,650 came to Hawai'i specifically to attend the Pro Bowl, according to the study.
The study estimated that the visitors who came here for the game contributed $3.23 million in state taxes.
The NFL has signed a contract with the state to keep the game at Aloha Stadium at least through 2009, with the state paying an average of $4 million per year for the privilege of hosting it. The Pro Bowl has been played at Aloha Stadium every year since 1980.
Even with the decline this year, "when you just look at the taxes generated plus the visitor spending we certainly think we have a very good deal," Johnson said.
The 2006 study, which involved a survey of 407 visitors at the game, found that 26 percent of visitors planned a trip to a Neighbor Island. Visitors stayed an average 8.98 days.
Reach Lynda Arakawa at email@example.com.