East Hawaii News

Big Island Tourism Starts the Year Strong

March 7, 2016, 2:45 PM HST
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Kahalu'u Beach Park. File photo by Jamilia Epping.

Kahalu’u Beach Park. File photo by Jamilia Epping.

Visitors came to the state and the Big Island in strong numbers to jumpstart the year, breaking the numbers set in place last year and continuing growth that has increased month-over-month for the past 11 months.

During the month of January, a total of 720,997 visitors came to Hawai’i. The number includes both air and cruise ship travelers. It shows a growth of 6.2 percent compared to the same time period in 2015.

On the Big Island, despite worry over the dengue fever outbreak that began last September, visitors still flocked.

During the month of January, 135,105 visitors visited the island, which represents a 3.8 percent increase over January 2015 numbers.

These numbers included in this report are part of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority’s preliminary statistics released for January 2016.


Visitor increases from airlines was up across various markets by a total of six percent, compared to last January, with 709,985 visitors arriving by air. The increase includes a six percent jump from the United States West and a 10.1 percent increase from the U.S. East. Internationally, visitor arrivals by airlines increased by 6.4 percent from Japan and 12.8 percent from all other international markets. The only major drop in January’s airline arrivals was from Canada, where there was an 11.8 percent drop compared to the prior January.


Cruise ship arrivals also increased as a whole, up 18.9 percent compared to last January, to 11,012.

Money being spent by visitors in the islands followed the lead of the arrival numbers, increasing by $40.8 million, representing 2.9 percent, in January. During the first month of the year, $1.5 billion was spent by those visiting the islands.

The U.S. West and U.S. East both had increased expenditures at 7.7 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. All other international markets increased by 12.1 percent, with the exception of Canada with a 15 percent decrease and Japan with a 4.1 percent decrease.


Visitors statewide spent an average of $196 per person on a daily basis. The number did not fluctuate compared to numbers the previous January.

The Big Island saw a 3.8 percent boost in arrivals between compared to January 2015. The number also translated to an increase in visitor spending, which rose by 7.7 percent to $216.3 million. Visitors spend an increase of 1.1 percent more days on the island, and also increased spending per person by 6.6 percent, or $174 per day.

On the Big Island arrivals increased from the U.S. West to 51,453 representing a 4.7 percent increase.  Arrivals from the U.S. East also rose by 10 percent to 39,682.

Closely resembling the state-wide decrease Canadian arrivals took a 17.4 percent decline during January, with Japan arrivals also down 2.5 percent.

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