Business

Tourism Industry Breaks Records in 2015

January 29, 2016, 4:00 PM HST
* Updated January 29, 6:35 PM
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Fairmont Orchid File photo.

Fairmont Orchid File photo.

A record amount of visitors and spending came through the islands in 2015, according to preliminary year-end statistics put out by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority this week. It is the fourth straight year that visitor expenditures and visitor traffic has increased from the year prior.

The total number of visitors that visited the state increased by 4.1 percent last year to 8,649,357. Over 8.3 million visitors came to Hawai’i in 2014. Meanwhile, visitor spending grew by 2.3 percent in 2015 to just under $15.2 billion, surpassing the previous year’s mark of over $14.8 billion.

On the Big Island, while numbers didn’t exceed previous records, growth was still seen in each of the two major tourism categories. Visitor arrivals increased by 3.8 percent in 2015 to 1,503,547, while expenditures ticked up by eight-tenths of a percent to $1.882 billion.

Arrivals to the state from the mainland increased from both coasts, with a 7.1 percent jump in visitors from the Western portion of the U.S. and 3.1 percent climb in individuals arriving from the East coast.

Tourism from Japan took a hit, with arrivals falling by 0.8 percent and visitor expenditures dropping by 9.8 percent to $2.2 billion. The number of visitors from Canada sunk by 1.4 percent, and spending for the year dropped by 0.9 percent.

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For the month of December, a total of 794,246 visited the state, a 3.7 percent jump from the same month in 2014. Visitor expenditures also grew, increasing 2.5 percent to $1.5 billion for the month.

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December’s numbers were mixed for the Big Island. While the total number of arrivals ticked up slightly by 0.2 percent to 140,288, expenditures were down by 4.1 percent to $180.4 million. Daily spending dropped by 3.9 percent to just over $153 dollars and spending per trip also dropped by 4.3 percent to $1,285.

One positive to December’s numbers was growth that came from more direct flights to Kona originating from the West coast. Arrivals from that region grew by 1.1 percent for the month, and those from that area that stayed exclusively on the Big Island increased by 3.8 percent. East coast visitors rose by 8.9 percent but visitors from Japan and Canada plummeted by 19.1 and 15.1 percent, respectively.

Also in the month of December, all airlines saw increases in air seating as compared to December 2014. Overall, seat capacity rose by 3.4 percent to 1,067,406. Seating to Kona increased by 11.6 percent and by 6.5 percent to Hilo.

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