Oceania visitor numbers to Hawaii crack 400,000

Near 20% surge in arrivals from New Zealand

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Visitor numbers to Hawaii from the Oceania region were at an all-time high in 2018, with more than 409,000 Aussies and Kiwis travelling to the Aloha State during the calendar year, up 3.5% on the 12 months prior.

Australian numbers were unchanged, accounting for 324,470 arrivals, with the region supported by a near 20% increase in traffic from New Zealand as a result of extra airlift from Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines.

Updating trade and industry partners yesterday on the 2018 results, Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania‘s Country Manager for Australia, Giselle Radulovic, said she was pleased with the results, taking into account the volcanic activity on the Big Island and Hurricane Lane, which partially dented consumer confidence in the destination.

“Never before has the Oceania region seen visitor arrivals to Hawai‘i exceed 400,000. This extremely positive result is setting up Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania (HTO) for an even stronger year in 2019 as we continue to promote the diversity of experiences on each Hawaiian Island,” Radulovic said.

The ‘Ohana update provided an opportunity for Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania to brief industry and trade partners on 2018 results and upcoming activities.

The results highlight the importance of the Australian market for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry with an average length of stay of 9.74 days in 2018. Expenditure for Oceania was up 1.05% to US$1.05 million, however, average trip spend was down slightly to US$2,559 per person (-1.5%), likely as a result of the longer stay.

“The long average length of stay for Australian travellers is indicative of the destination’s depth of experiences and appeal to our market. Australians are willing explorers and Hawai’i offers so many different activities, from beaches to water sports, road trips and helicopter tours over volcanoes,” Radulovic said.

The island of Oahu remained the most popular destination for Aussie travellers with 317,111 visits, which was more than five times that of Maui (57,150) and over seven times that of the Big Island (43,126). Outer island visitation was down 10.5% year-on-year. However, Radulovic noted that consumer sentiment at last weekend’s travel show in Sydney indicated a high desire to explore the outer islands.

HTO remains keen to grow the MICE market. The lucrative segment currently only accounts for just 2% of arrivals from Oceania, but Radulovic said the appointment last year of Kris Phadungkiatipong as Hawaii’s “in-destination MICE expert” was a strategy to establish and develop relationships locally, and has already resulted in some good business events being confirmed for 2019.

Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania also highlighted recent findings from their consumer market research, which showed the top brand perceptions of Hawai‘i for an Australian traveller. Recognised for its beaches, Hawai‘i’s outstanding nature and landscapes were the top perception of the Aloha state, followed by its suitability for family travel and appeal to couples.

The consumer market research also showed that travel agents remain an integral booking channel when travellers are arranging a holiday to Hawai‘i.

Throughout 2019, HTO will focus on a range of themes, including multi-island holidays, soft adventure, multigenerational families, stop-overs, romance/couples, luxury, responsible tourism and sports.

Lead image: Hawaii Tourism Oceania’s team: Kris Phadungkiatipong, Madeline Atkins, Charis Ricafuente, Jacqui Walshe, Giselle Radulovic and Sade Villatora.

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