Despite the decline in tourism statewide, Molokai proved to be the one island that experienced an increase in visitor arrivals for the first quarter of 2014, according to figures released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Molokai saw a 2.7 percent increase in arrivals, to 14,712 visitors during the first quarter. Lanai, meanwhile, had the largest decline in the state at 17.4 percent to 16,268 visitors.
Despite the increased number of visitors, the amount that is being spent on Molokai actually went down. For the first quarter of the year, total spending on Molokai declined 6.4 percent to $9.1 million and Lanai was down 14.3 percent to $19.3 million.
On Maui, arrivals by air fell 2.7 percent to 215,485 visitors in March compared with March 2013, and dropped 2.8 percent to 599,659 visitors through the first three months compared with the first quarter of 2013.
Total spending for Maui in March was up 5.7 percent to 347.6 million and average daily spending was up 8 percent to $193 per person. But for the first three months of 2014, spending on Maui dipped 2.2 percent to $1.036 billion, and average daily spending down 2.7 percent to $193 per person.
Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau, attributed some of the decline in Maui County to competing locations offering air credits to closer destinations, and said that the bureau is working on a strategy “to be more prominent against” them.
“A stabilization with small growth is what we need and that’s what we’ll be looking to find,” she said. “The spring is one of our busiest times and summer will be next. I’m hoping for better numbers in the summer.”
A news release from the HTA said, “Following two record-breaking years in visitor spending and arrivals, we anticipated a slowdown in growth this year. 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.”