Visitor arrivals increase in first 10 months last year
The total international arrival statistics documented for the 10 month period, revealed an increase of 10.2% over the previous period (Jan-Oct 2018). resulting in overall growth of 10.2% for the Jan – Oct period from 136,992 to 151,024 or an absolute increase of 14,032 visitors over the 2018 period It also represents another record second six months period exceeding the previous high that was set last year. Overall arrivals have grown by 10.2% when compared to 2015 figures increasing annually by an average 35% over the past 5 years.
Australia remains as our top performing market for the period and achieved the highest growth in absolute terms increasing by 4,842 visitors growing by 17.7% over the corresponding period last year increasing its overall market share to 21%. American Samoa continues its rebound from last years’ numbers and grew by 11.8% or 1,439 visitors. New Zealand and European numbers remained stagnant while our USA market had encountered a disappointing negative growth of 4.2%. Our Asian markets on the other hand performed well for the period with China recording solid growth of 21.6% when compared to the same period in 2018.
On purpose of travel, our Holiday Market dominated the period and grew by 18.7% or an additional 8,963 holiday travelers, increasing its total share of visitors up to 38% from 35% in 2018. Our sports travellers on the back of the SPG grew by 4% or 4,978 more visitors in absolute terms increasing its total share of visitors up to 1% from 4% in compared to the same quarter in 2018.
The growth in our holiday market is pleasing given that the first half of the year is usually dominated by the VFR market. Holiday growth however was at the expense of our VFR market which recorded negative growth of 6.3% or a decrease of 3,767 VFR travelers which saw its overall market share drop to 37% from 44% in 2018. Our Business and Conference market also achieved similar growth to our Holiday market growing by 39.4% attributed to the many additional meetings and conferences held over the period apart from the normal church conferences.
Visitor Earnings increased by 12.1% to SAT$433.0 million form SAT$386.4 million for the same period in 2018. The increase is slightly more relative to the growth in overall visitor arrivals and this is largely attributed to the significant increase experienced in our Business market, as well as our Australian and Asian markets which have a higher average spend per visit.
The increase in our Holiday and Business travellers has coincided with an increase in visitors utilising our accommodation products 54,292 to 58,207or an additional 3,915 visitors staying in paid accommodation for the period. The majority of the increase utilised our Deluxe products while our lower end categories of Budget and Beach Fales also experienced an increase in their overall visitors. The expected increase to hotel stats as a result of the Games did not eventuate with the majority of athletes utilising private accommodations.
Aviation Capacity for the period increased by 11,579 in absolute terms or grew by 6% when compared to the same quarter in 2018. The increase is a direct result of the new Brisbane route operated by Samoa Airways that wasn’t in operation last year which offset reduced capacity due to less flights operated out of Auckland and Nadi by Air NZ and Fiji Airways respectively. Air NZ with its reduced capacity actually increased its overall visitors and is the best performing of all routes achieving utilisation rate of 84.5%. Samoa Airways utilisation out of Auckland and Sydney have both increased for the period from 60% for both routes in 2018 to 68.8% this year which is good news as we were expecting our national carrier to build on last year’s results.
The total of negative capacity of 7,210 seats translated into 11,579 additional air travellers resulting in overall utilisation increasing from67.3% to 73.6%. The increase in utilisation has resulted in a reduction of total empty seats to 68,905 to 87,694 recorded for the same quarter last year.