Total spending by visitors who came to Hawaii in March 2014 fell 3.5 percent compared to last March to $1.2 billion, according to preliminary statistics released Monday by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority.
For the first quarter of 2014, total visitor expenditures fell 3.1 percent to $3.8 billion and total arrivals dropped 3.2 percent to 2,058,207 visitors.
"Following two record-breaking years in visitor spending and arrivals, we anticipated a slowdown in growth this year," said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney. "While the outlook for the summer remains strong, we expect the fall shoulder period to be challenging, with increased competition, a strengthening U.S. dollar and increased taxes."
Total arrivals in March declined 5.2 percent to 728,814 visitors, offsetting increased average daily visitor spending. Arrivals by air from U.S. West visitors dropped 9.2 percent to 268,236 visitors.
A change in the Easter/spring break holiday to April in 2014 from March in 2013 caused some shift in arrivals and contributed to this decline. Combined with lower daily visitor spending, U.S. West visitor expenditures decreased 14 percent to $378.9 million in March 2014. U.S. West visitor expenditures and arrivals have shown year-over-year losses since August 2013.
While U.S. East arrivals of 165,745 visitors were comparable to March 2013, higher daily spending led to a 7.5 percent growth in U.S. East visitor expenditures to $317.4 million.
"The HTA continues to focus on enhancing our global marketing efforts to grow our market share from international regions, as arrivals from these areas continue to increase and help to balance the declines from mature markets like the U.S. West and U.S. East," said McCartney.
Total expenditures by Japanese visitors of $204.4 million was about the same as March 2013. Growth in arrivals was offset by small decreases in daily spending and length of stay.
Canadian visitors spent a total of $136.2 million in March 2014, down 5.9 percent from a year ago. Arrivals of 74,054 visitors was similar to March 2013, while daily spending declined 4.2 percent to $147 per person.
Arrivals from All Other markets decreased 4.5 percent to 79,622 visitors. However, higher daily spending contributed to a 4.6 percent growth in expenditures from All Other visitors to $190.9 million. Arrivals by cruise ships fell 52.7 percent to 10,592 visitors in March 2014.
There were fewer visitors to the four larger Hawaiian Islands compared to March 2013. Visitor expenditures increased on Maui (+5.7 percent) and the Big Island (+4.9 percent), but declined on Oahu (-9.5 percent) and Kauai (-4.3 percent).