|The Hawaii Tourism Authority has high hopes for revenues in the next year, but warned (at an event March 11) that predictions are vulnerable to market factors such as oil prices and currency exchange rates.
HTA presented results from 2014 and plans for 2015 at an event held at the Hawaii Convention Center.
A record number of tourists — 8.6 million — are expected in 2015, particularly in the first half of the year, and HTA predicts $15.58 billion in visitor spending. The average trip will be nine days, and visitors will spend approximately $197 daily.
It’s also expected that there will be an increase in visitors from China, facilitated by an agreement that, last November, extended visa validity from one to 10 years.
Airlines are currently pushing flights to Hawaii because of low fuel prices, and overall airlift to Hawaii has increased by 6.4% this year, with large jumps from North America. The East Coast actually saw a larger increase than the West Coast (9.8% versus 8%), largely due to new routes such as a JFK-Seattle run from Alaska Airlines.
David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management, pointed out that higher vacation costs set up higher expectations for visitors, and Hawaii has to compete with destinations that purport to offer similar experiences at a lower price point.
That means focusing on unique, high-quality experiences is key.
“When people visit Hawaii, it’s all about giving them an authentic Hawaiian experience — whether it’s for first-time visitors or repeat customers, showing the real Hawaii is the reason people come to the islands to begin with,”
Overall, tourists are happy with their vacation experiences. But satisfaction among Japanese tourists — a key group — has fallen significantly below that of visitors from other countries. In the first quarter of 2014, only 62% of visitors from Japan said they were satisfied with their vacations. The next lowest group, tourists from Australia and New Zealand, had a 75% satisfaction rate.
The biggest complaints from tourists included long waits at car rental and tour desks, slow check-ins, and dirty hotel rooms.