Maui Now: Accuracy of Maui Tourism Data Under Review

By David Kvasnicka

File photo courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson.

Marketing photo used by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. File photo courtesy HTA / Tor Johnson.

The veracity of the data used by the Hawaii Tourism Authority to compile reports about Maui’s tourism industry has been the subject of a complaint, delaying reporting for several months.

The state Attorney General’s office, as well as the Hawaii Tourism Authority and its research contractor, say they have the matter under review.

The complaint, says the tourism authority, was that an employee of one of their research contractors may have submitted invalid survey data about visitor expenditures on Maui.

The tourism authority said that the data in question has resulted in an adjustment to visitor spending on Maui between June 2013 and May 2014, prompting an adjustment to statewide figures.

A spokesperson for the tourism authority couldn’t confirm that the complaint led to the adjustment, since that was under review, but said that it may have been a result of re-checking the numbers as is usual, since the monthly reports are considered “preliminary.”

The tourism authority’s monthly reports, which were due in May onwards, were held back until Friday, July 11, to give the organization time to involve other research firms in confirming the accuracy of their data.

The tourism authority says it has “revalidated” the data for the monthly visitor statistics report for 2013 and January through May 2014, “as part of [their] normal process” as well as the complaint.

“The delayed release of the May 2014 visitor statistics report allowed us to gather input and collaborate with other research firms to ensure the accuracy of the data and we are confident that the numbers released are valid,” said the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s CEO Mike McCartney in a press release.

With the “revalidated” data, the tourism authority said that Maui’s per-person spending was up 7.3%, and length of stay was up 3.5% for the first five months of 2014, with expenditures at $1.7 billion (out of $6.1 billion for the state).

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