Hawai’i thrives during peak holiday and travel times throughout the year and depends on tourism to generate its economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawai’i slowed tourism with strict regulations to enter the state in order to protect its residents from the virus; however, it negatively impacted Hawai’i’s economy and caused a surge in prices across every field such as food, gas, living expenses, etc. On March 25, 2022, Hawai’i Governor David Ige dismantled COVID-19 regulations making it the last state in the U.S. to require face masks, and welcomed tourists back to the islands. With the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, the June 2022 visitors count was the second highest since January 2020. Throughout all of the islands, visitors by air increased by 6.4%, with 791,053 in 2021 and 841,809 in 2022. With the most popular islands for tourists to visit throughout the years being Kaua’i, Maui, Big Island, and O’ahu, all four of them saw an increase in tourism from 2021 to 2022. With Kaua’i being the most significant increase at 28%, Big Island at 15.1%, O’ahu at 10.9%, and Maui at 10.6%. The more rural islands also saw substantial increases, with Lana’i seeing the biggest at 21.3% and Moloka’i at 19.2%. While overall tourism throughout the islands has increased, there has been a steady decline in the length of stay for all islands, with Moloka’i at -13.1%, Big island -12.9%, Lana’i -11.6%, Kaua’i -10.4%, Maui -7.7%, and O’ahu at -7.5% compared to figures in 2021.
Although the length of stay has declined, visitors are still spending an exorbitant amount; Hawai’i experienced a 12.3% increase in overall visitor spending from $1.63 billion in 2019 to $1.83 billion in 2022. This increase is likely due to surging prices in lodging at hotels and vacation rentals, rental cars, and gas prices. Another reason may be due to Hawai’i no longer having pandemic regulations such as no gatherings of more than ten people and mask mandates which now allow businesses such as lodging, restaurants, ziplining, helicopter tours, boat tours, luaus, national parks, and overall public events to reopen with full occupancy for visitors to take advantage of again. International visitors have also increased this year at 31.2%, with visitors from Japan being the highest at 9.4% compared to past years. While visitors through cruise ships did not gain their momentum back from 141,273 in 2021 to 47,225 in 2022, we are hopeful that as the year progresses, more visitors will become comfortable on cruise lines again. In the pre-pandemic era,
Hawai’i was a hot spot for companies to hold their annual corporate events; although there are no current statistics, it is safe to assume these events are not back to their original numbers. With overall travel increasing throughout the state compared to the pre-pandemic, Hawai’i is optimistic that our economy will continue to generate revenue over the upcoming months and years.
We at Waikoloa Vacation Rentals have seem statistics similar, but slightly higher which seems to be the result of vacation rentals and Kohala Coast being hot spots.