Latest study shows that Hawaii visitors are still spending less compared to pre-pandemic levels


People in line to eat at Marukami Udon in Waikiki in July 2021. (KHON2)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — With summer travel in full swing, more visitors are arriving the islands, but they’re still spending less compared to two years ago before the pandemic hit.

That’s according to preliminary visitor statistics that were released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) and Hawaii Tourism Authority on Thursday.

Total spending for visitors arriving in June 2021 was $1.44 billion, compared to $1.63 billion in June 2019, representing a 11.9% decrease in visitor spending. There is no data available for the month of June 2020.

The decline in visitor spending is even more apparent when comparing the first six months between 2021 and 2019. Through the first half of this year, spending was at $4.86 billion. In 2019, visitors spent $8.86 billion, representing a 45.1% decline.

There was also a major difference in visitor arrivals when comparing 2021 and 2019 numbers. In June 2021, a total of 791,053 visitors arrived in the islands, mainly from the west and east coasts. Prior to the pandemic, Hawaii saw record-level arrivals in 2019, as well as in the first two months of 2020.

According to Thursday’s report, a total of 947,112 visitors arrived in the islands in 2019. That’s a 16.5% decrease compared to 2021.

However, there was a 27.6% increase in visitor arrivals this year compared to last year, which can be attributed to the state’s Safe Travels program and vaccination exemption.

According to the average daily census, there were 255,936 visitors in Hawaii on any given day in June 2021, compared to 15,223 visitors per day in June 2020, versus 277,930 visitors per day in June 2019.

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