Japan Just Became Hawaii’s Second Largest Visitor Market


December 7, 2012

According to a recent report from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Japan just passed the East Coast to become Hawaii’s second largest visitor market. Now, only the West Coast market brings more visitors to Hawaii than Japan.

The predominance of Japanese visitors is important, particularly to Hawaii accommodation businesses. Making visitors feel comfortable regardless of a language barrier is important, as is a respect for cultural differences. In Japan’s case, politeness is crucial, and some visitors felt that this trait wasn’t all it could have been in recent years.

Looking at the month of October, there were 125,742 visitors, which is a whopping 15.2 percent higher than it was in the same month last year. This may surprise some, considering the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that took place there last year. Spending was up by 4 percent to $329 per person for a total of $236.4 million. Thanks to the increase in the number of visitors, plus the increase in spending, total visitor expenditures was 18.8 percent higher than the same month last year. What an incredible change.

To continue fostering growth in the coming years, the HTA Vice President stated that it is important to continue expanding air service to Japan.

As for the U.S. West, there was a 9.6 percent increase in visitors year over year in October for a total of 255,602 visitors, and expenditures were up 15.2 percent to $381.7 million. From the U.S. East, there was a 1.4 percent decrease to 118,799 visitors year over year, but expenditures went up 2 percent to $245.4 million, which is likely due to increases in length of stay.

The grand total in visitor spending in October was $1.1 billion, a 12.7 percent increase compared to the year before. This really is an exceptional improvement. Of course if you’ve read our blogs on Maui real estate trends, you’ve often heard us emphasize the importance of long term trends for higher reliability. With that in mind, as we look at visitor spending for the first 10 months of the year, we find an 18.9 percent increase year over year to nearly $11.8 billion. The growth during the first 9 months of the year was .6 percent faster.

The grand total in visitor arrivals was up 8.6 percent in October to 640,666 and the year-to-date increase was 9.5 percent to 6.6 million visitors.

Despite the slight drop in East Coast arrivals, this is all encouraging news, especially considering the improvements in the Japanese visitor market. We can consider this yet another step up for the economy. Mahalo for reading this week!

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