HONOLULU – Gov. Linda Lingle met Tuesday with 25 island hotel owners and operators to discuss efforts to get Hawaii’s tourism industry back on track.
The meeting was held as the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported visitor arrivals in July fell 14 percent from July 2007.
“We know from prior experience that the current slowdown in the visitor market will eventually turn around, but we don’t want to just wait for that to happen,” Lingle said.
“We want to do something now, and I appreciate the hotel industry’s willingness to work together on finding innovative solutions to bolster our tourism market,” she said. “Rather than dwell on the challenges facing the industry and our economy, these industry leaders are looking forward.”
A major focus of the meeting was the need to spend more on marketing, Lingle said.
To that end, Lingle and the hoteliers want the Hawaii Tourism Authority to allocate an additional $10 million for marketing the islands.
Lingle also said she and Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona planned to take separate trips to Asia in November to promote Hawaii’s visitor industry.
The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported total air visitor expenditures in July were down nearly 15 percent, or $177.3 million, from the same month last year, to $1 billion. The decline was caused by a 2.8 percent decline in daily spending and a 13.7 percent drop in visitor arrivals by air to 613,550 visitors.
Total visitor days for air and cruise visitors in July were off by just under 13 percent, the department said.
Among the top four visitor markets, only Canadians posted an increase in air arrivals in July, up 15.6 percent from the previous July. Visitors from the U.S. West plunged 19.3 percent, the U.S. East 13.8 percent and Japan 11.7 percent.
“Prior to June and July, Hawaii’s visitor market had managed to weather the softness that was being felt by other travel destination as a result of the slowing national economy,” state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said.
“July was the second month we have seen a significant impact on the visitor industry due to a variety of factors, including the national economy, rising fuel prices, and the loss of the two Norwegian Cruise Line ships,” she said.