The number of days domestic travelers stayed in Hawaii set a record in 2002, an increase of 5 percent to 45.3 million, according to preliminary data released by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT). The jump more than offset lower visitor days from Japan, with a dramatic slide noted last summer leveling off somewhat to ending the year 3.9 percent lower than in 2001. Overall, total visitor days rose 2.8 percent to 59.4 million perhaps the third best year in DBEDT history.
In 2002, the islands hosted a total of 6.3 million visitors, up 0.9 percent from 2001, while the average length of stay rose to 9.34 days (an increase of 1.9 percent).
“The recovery of our primary domestic market, specifically the U.S. West segment, can be attributed to new direct flights and an increased length of stay,” said DBEDT Director Ted Liu. “While international arrivals remain soft, it is very encouraging to see improvements in the Japanese travel market.
“However, this was helped by the Honolulu Marathon, held during the first week of December, which brought more than 16,000 visitors from Japan,” he added. “Additionally, we note that the number of Japanese honeymooners has jumped 56.8 percent for the year compared to 2001.”
All islands benefitted from the increase in domestic arrivals last year, with Molokai reporting the largest increase at 36.1 percent.
As for the reasons travelers coming from U.S. cities came to the islands, the number of people citing visits to friends and relatives jumped 13 percent, for government or military business 11 percent, and business travel 7 percent. Fewer said they were coming to honeymoon (down less than a percent) and corporate meetings (a drop of nearly 18 percent). More than 66 percent were repeat visitors.
The wedding and honeymoon market still fared well overall, though, with an increase of nearly 29 percent cited when both domestic and international visitors were measured together.
The cruise ship sector also did well in 2002, with two Honolulu-based ships and four out-of-state ships together reporting passenger counts up by 64 percent.