HONOLULU (KHON2) — It is what many in the tourism and hospitality industries wanted, the return of visitors to pre-pandemic levels; and according to the state’s daily passenger count, this spring break is looking a lot like 2019. 

Looking around Waikiki, the beaches are full and so is Kalakaua Avenue. Visitors like Rachel Davies from Wales said she is surrounded by aloha. 

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Davies said, “It’s lovely to see how friendly everyone is and accommodating and the hospitality industry has been really friendly and really helpful.”

The last time Hawaii saw a tourism boom was in 2019. The pandemic put entire industries to a halt; but three years later, tourism looks almost like it did before. 

The Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort General Manager, Steve Miller, said they are operating in the 80% range of occupancy. Which is just shy of the hotel’s 2019 level. 

Miller said, “Right now, I would say 75% of our guests are primarily from the mainland and our other two biggest markets right now are Australia and Canada.”

The state’s daily passenger count puts the number of arrivals at similar levels to 2019. Just on Wednesday, March 15, 30,732 people landed in Hawaii which is compared to 30,692 in 2019. Wednesday’s number of arrivals beats last year’s number by more than 15%. 

Although travelers from Japan remain at less than half from pre-pandemic levels on any given day, domestic travelers and other markets are making up for it. 

Miller said, “On the Japan market we are forecasting to be at 68% of the 2019 levels of business from Japan by the end of the year.”

Miller said they have the staff they need for their level of occupancy, although not all hotel properties are so lucky. 

Prof. Jerry Agrusa, at the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management, said hotels and restaurants are still trying to find more workers. 

Agrusa said, “The challenge is the labor crisis throughout the industry, not just here in Hawaii but throughout the whole United States; and it’s affecting hotels, restaurants and retail. Anything that is labor intensive.”  

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Visitors like Davies said they have been waiting for a long time to visit Hawaii and said having to wait long at some spots is worth it. She is already thinking of returning. 

Davies said, “How can we get back over here and visit again.”