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Mahalo for a Successful 2012
On behalf of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority board of directors and staff, I would like to express a sincere mahalo to the state, counties, community and the visitor industry for their support in a successful year for Hawai‘i’s tourism economy.
We are supported by nearly 154,000 hard working men and women in the industry that work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. They demonstrate and share the aloha spirit with our guests, which truly sets us apart from other destinations and make the Hawaiian Islands a special place to live and visit.
2012 has been a prosperous year for our tourism economy, and one of the busiest years on record with an average of nearly 200,000 daily visitors statewide. The growth in arrivals and expenditures month-over-month led us to revise our targets upwards in July to $13.9 billion in visitor expenditures and 7.89 million visitor arrivals. We continue to build momentum and are on track to meet these aggressive targets, set forth in the HTA Strategic Plan.
Contributing to the year’s growth were numerous new direct flights from U.S. West and U.S. East, Japan, Korea and Australia, demonstrating the continued demand for travel to our state. Seat inventory to the Hawaiian Islands is anticipated to reach 10.1 million for 2012, which is just shy of our peak year in 2006 at 10.3 million.
We understand the importance of ensuring that all of the islands benefit from this growth. Therefore, we are pleased that as of October 2012, year-to-date visitor expenditures are up not only for the state as a whole, but for each of the four major islands. We continue to work with our global marketing contractors and industry partners to develop and support programs that draw visitors and increase distribution across the state throughout the year. Our investments and promotions of festivals and events, such as Mele Mei and the Hawai‘i Food and Wine Festival, are examples of initiatives that attract visitors to the Hawaiian Islands particularly during slower shoulder periods.
Much of our growth is coming out of the Asia-Pacific region. Other Asia (China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong) and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) are two of our fastest growing visitor markets, while Japan, our largest international market, exhibits continual gains in 2012. We anticipate growth into 2013, with the recent entrance of Taiwan into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, the new nonstop flight from Taiwan to Honolulu, new flights out of Australia and New Zealand, and the Japan-Hawai‘i Tourism Council initiative to reach two million Japanese visitors by 2016. We plan to capitalize on the growth from our international markets in 2013 through the help of $2 million in additional funding allocated by the 2012 Legislature for these efforts.
To ensure that we honor and perpetuate our host culture, we implemented various initiatives throughout the year. The Ma‘ema‘e Tool Kit, an online resource guide that offers essential information to authentically promote the Hawaiian Islands, was completed to help market and represent Hawai‘i in an accurate way. The HTA also worked with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Bank of Hawai‘i to implement the Hawaiian language in ATMs across the state. We also committed to using both official languages of Hawai‘i (Hawaiian and English) on our stationary and business cards. It is our belief that these initiatives will honor and help perpetuate our unique culture that makes the Hawaiian Islands so special.
Our people, place and culture are the foundation of our visitor industry. In support of the community and to invest in our future generations, the HTA has worked with the Department of Education and our industry partners to successfully develop and implement hospitality and tourism programs that provide students with the tools to learn about the industry from a high school level.
As we look to 2013, we remain optimistic that we will have another strong year for our tourism economy and will continue to build upon the momentum and gains from this year. We anticipate seeing our product pricing continue to increase, which will be slightly offset as low cost carriers start to enter the Hawai‘i market. We will also focus on long-term growth and economic sustainability through the global Meetings, Conventions and Incentives (MCI) market with a refined focus on booking conversions and securing new business for future years.
Thank you again for your hard work and support this year. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to working with everyone in the New Year.
President and CEO, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority