HONOLULU — Arrivals to Kaua‘i grew 10.6 percent to 92,163 visitors in January 2013 with increased arrivals from the top four visitor markets, according to a Hawai‘i Tourism Authority report.
The Mainland visitors from the West are up 18 percent, and another 5.3 percent from the East, according to the report. Canada visitors are up 12.6 percent, and 25.8 percent from Japan.
“We are pleased to see how Kaua‘i performed in January, especially when it can be a soft month,” Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho said.
The growth in air seats is up 29.1 percent to the island, and daily spending is up 7.2 percent to an average $175 per person. This is also contributed to a 14.3 percent jump in total visitor expenditures to $136.6 million.
The gains in air seats for Kaua‘i means that Alaska Airlines has added Portland to Lihu‘e service and other islands have also received new flights giving the state more air service, Kanoho said.
“Within the first month of the year, Hawai‘i’s tourism industry has already contributed $1.43 billion into the state’s economy, $77 million more than the same period last year,” Hawai‘i Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney states in a press release. “Each guest spent an average of $2,103 during their stay, which equates to $220 per person in state tax revenue.”
Significant gains in air seats have been a major contributor to the growth in arrivals throughout the state. HTA is forecasting the state to reach 10.7 million air seats, surpassing the record high of 10.6 million in 2006.
“The growth from our international markets has been considerable, making up 34 percent of total air seats, with new nonstop routes from Taipei and Sendai and increased service from Australia and New Zealand commencing this year,” McCartney said. “We will continue to support these increases in air access, which will help to open up opportunities for us to further diversify and grow our international and U.S. East markets, as well as expand our meetings, conventions and incentives (MCI) market.”
The report notes that growth this growth period comes after three years of rebuilding. There were 1.5 million air seats lost between 2007 and 2009, according to the report, which credits work to highlight a unique people, place and culture, and improved distribution throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and more opportunities to travel during slower fall and spring shoulder seasons.
“As we look to the remainder of the first quarter, we anticipate events like the Prince Kuhio Celebration of the Arts to draw visitors to Kaua‘i to experience what makes the island unique,” McCartney said.
The exposure from major motion pictures that are filmed on the island are also a help, said Kanoho. “The Descendants”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, “Soul Surfer” and “Just Go With It” are only a few of the recent movies that have drawn people to the island where they were filmed, she said.
The press from the 50th anniversary of the Elvis film, “Blue Hawai‘i”, which was partially filmed at Coco Palms and other island locations, along with the 40th Anniversary of the “Aloha From Hawai‘i” performance also helped give Kaua‘i some unique exposure.
“This has given Kaua‘i a value-added opportunity,” Kanoho said.
After reaching nearly eight million visitor arrivals in 2012, HTA began to closely monitor the correlation between travel demand and costs in order to balance the needs of our residents and visitors, while remaining competitive and sustaining a healthy tourism economy. The goal is to maintain momentum for targets of $14.88 billion in visitor expenditures and 8.17 million arrivals this in 2013.
“The KVB team works hard to find the kind of visitor that will enjoy all that Kaua‘i has to offer, while still competing with all the other destinations that are closer and sometimes more accessible than we are, in the middle of the Pacific,” Kanoho said.
We use the www.kauaifestivals.com website as a source to share festivals and events with our visitors. I believe the Kaua‘i Made and Kaua‘i Grown programs have also helped give the visitors a connection to the island that is fairly new.
• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or by emailing email@example.com.