Report: Hawaii is seeing fewer visitors than pre-pandemic highs but they’re spending more

The Hawaii Tourism Authority says in August, visitor spending increased by 13.8% compared to 2019.
Published: Oct. 2, 2022 at 5:52 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 2, 2022 at 11:19 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Although summer travel slowed in August, a new state report shows tourists are spending more during their time in the islands.

A report by DBEDT shows in August, about 830,000 visitors spent $1.71 billion.

In 2019, in contrast, more than 920,000 visitors spent $1.5 billion.

Sarah Aoyama, owner of Engaging Moments, said she has been busy organizing weddings for mostly mainland families all summer.

“I think I’m as busy as I used to be before COVID so I’m happy,” said Aoyama. “Even last-minute bookings are coming in like a month before.”

Hide Sakurai, president and CEO of Sky Waikiki, is surprised by the number of guests that have been coming through their doors all summer.

“Well, I was a little bit worried about recession [and] back to school,” said Sakurai. “However, month of August was pretty amazing month for us and I think Waikiki in general, I think we’ve been doing great.”

But as far as Hawaii’s highest spending visitors — the Japanese — UH Professor of Travel Industry Management Jerry Agrusa said a rebound will take time.

Even though the country has lifted their strict travel rules, the yen is now down compared to the dollar.

“So, it’s costing the Japanese visitor, you know, a good 15-20% more,” said Agrusa. “But people for two years they’ve been saving up, so I think they’re coming.”

Businesses remain optimistic.

“We have a lot of local support, first and foremost, and we have a lot of mainland tourists,” said Sakurai.

“So many people are traveling from the mainland to have weddings, but it’s not nearly like that from Japan,” added Aoyama. “I think it’s very slow coming back.”

The data suggests Hawaii is on pace to a full recovery by 2025.