Visitor spending in Hawaii surpasses pre-pandemic levels

Visitor spending in Hawaii last month surpassed pre-pandemic spending, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Total visitor spending last month reached $1.71 billion, an increase of over 13% from August 2019, when visitors to Hawaii spent $1.5 billion, DBEDT said.

”Due to strong airlift, we are continuing to see recovery in the visitor industry with U.S. travelers leading the way on visits and spending,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney.

The majority of the 829,699 visitors who arrived in Hawaii by air service last month were mainly U.S. travelers, according to visitor statistics. U.S. West visitors spent an average of $224 per person per day, up 34% from the $167 spent daily per person in Aug. 2019.

DBEDT did not say whether inflation was a factor.

“DBEDT has a projection of 9.2 million visitors for the entire 2022, that represents an 88.5% recovery from 2019, generates $2.2 billion in state tax revenue and supports 195,000 jobs. We are confident in the return of a managed visitor industry in 2025 that balances the needs of the community and businesses,” said McCartney.

There was no out-of-state cruise activity during the month of August. McCartney said they expect the return of Japanese visitors in October when the Japanese government reopens their country.

Visits from Canadian travelers were still down by 4.2% compared to pre-pandemic numbers, however, Canadians spent more money. A total of $61.4 million was spent by visitors from Canada in Aug. 2022 compared to $57.2 million in August 2019, according to DBEDT.

On average, per person per trip spending is up $461 more than 2019.

“The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is focused on visitor spending, as tourism dollars are recirculated in our economy, supporting local businesses, retailers, restaurants and attractions throughout the state,” said Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries.

The first eight months of the year saw $12.8 billion in visitor spending, which was up more than 6% from the first eight months of 2019.

“Hawai‘i is on pace to a full recovery in 2025 with the return of international visitors. We will have to compete for the type of visitors we want as pent-up demand moderates and travel patterns settle in. While improving our destination and monitoring global events, we must be flexible and adjust our plans so that we can compete with other destinations as the world opens for travelers,” McCartney said.

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