Hawaii visitor arrivals to decrease in coming weeks before summer uptick

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Spring break is winding down and tourism leaders anticipate a slowdown in arrivals until summer.

Daily arrivals are nowhere near pre-pandemic numbers but that could change if the state follows the latest Centers for Disease Control guidance that allows vaccinated travelers to bypass quarantine and a pre-test.

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The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) expects the summer of 2021 to be busy but says the state will not see as many daily arrivals consistently like spring break.

Hawaii saw its highest number of visitors over spring break since reopening in October 2020, averaging about 16,000 arrivals every day in March 2021.

It was still half the amount of daily arrivals from January 2020 (30,235), and February 2020 (29,576).

Tourism leaders said Hawaii will see a 2021 slowdown in April and May before picking back up again.

“Some of the summer build up will start in June, July, and August, and we expect to be quite busy actually,” said HTA president John De Fries.

The busiest month in 2019 was in July, according to HTA data, with roughly 286,000 visitors in the state on any given day.

Oahu averaged 132,000 visitors in June and July 2019; Maui averaged 76,000; Hawaii Island averaged 40,000 and Kauai averaged 32,000.

The tourism industry has been marketing across the mainland and anticipates an uptick in domestic travel in the summer due to pent up demand, increased vaccination rollout and stimulus checks.

“I think when you add all of that up, and there’s certain hotels and activities that are extending discounts, combined with the fact that many other destinations in the world are either closed down or lack the confidence of the traveler, I do think Hawaii will be the beneficiary of much of that,” De Fries said.

Parts of Europe, Asia, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand have travel restrictions in place.

There were about 250,000 international visitors over the summer months of 2019.

Japan has required all travelers to quarantine due to the summer Olympics; De Fries said, for that reason alone the state does not anticipate many Japanese travelers this summer.

He does, however, hope to start marketing to Oceania, Korea and Canada by fall 2021.

“This summer will be primarily U.S. travelers,” he said.

Hawaii’s highest daily arrival over spring break was 28,000 travelers, De Fries said summer will be busy, but not on a day-after-day basis.

“The summer will be vigorous, but it remains to be seen as to whether we get that high on a daily average every day. That’ll be quite an achievement if we did, frankly,” he added.

US travel agency bookings for the third quarter are around 108,000, according to the HTA website.

De Fries said, mask enforcement and messaging are still concerns as summer nears because more states are dropping mask mandates.

“There is a firm and polite way to ask them to do it,” De Fries said. “And those that are wearing a mask, take the time to thank them because they’re mindful, and they’re respectful of our ways, and the safety of our people.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said on Friday, April 3, having a vaccine passport in place would help bring a much-needed economic boost and summer travel numbers could increase.

“If we delay, we will lose opportunity for nothing, because we’re safer now, and I’m really optimistic about our public health safety. What I’m not yet optimistic about is that we can get out of our own way and get the vaccine passport in place, and we need to do that,” he said.

KHON2 will follow up with Gov. Ige’s office during the week of Monday, April 5, on any update regarding a vaccine passport.

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