Visitors from mainland United States to Hawaii last month surpassed pre-pandemic mark; Maui spends

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PC: Kehaulani Cerizo

As international travel markets continue to recover, Hawaiʻi saw arrivals to the mainland United States last month surpass pre-pandemic benchmarks, according to a preliminary state report released Thursday.

In March, the state received 686,038 visitors from the continental United States, a 9.8% increase from 624,697 in March 2019, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development’s Visitor Statistics Report. and tourism.

A total of 788,931 visitors came to the Hawaiian Islands last month, compared to 928,849 during the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, Maui and Big Island last month were just 11.9% below visitor arrivals for the same period in 2019. Other islands were between 13% and 40% below their March 2019 numbers .

With the rapid resurgence of tourism, state and county leaders are considering measures to manage the visitor industry. State lawmakers are considering whether to fund and implement a state tourism management study, and Maui County Council members are looking to roll out caps on tourist accommodations.

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There were 239,538 visitors to Maui last month compared to 271,934 visitors in March 2019, according to the state report. The average daily count, a measure of the number of visitors present on any given day, was 63,948 visitors to Maui last month, down from 69,349 visitors in March 2019.

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For Maui, visitors spent 3.5% more than in the same period of 2019. Visitor spending in March was $458.8 million, compared to $443.3 million in 2019.

Overall visitor spending for Hawaiʻi last month rose 2.5% to $1.53 billion from the same pre-pandemic month of $1.49 billion.

For the first quarter of this year, total visitor spending was $1.29 billion, compared to $1.33 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

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Cruise ship arrivals, as well as international markets, such as Japan and Canada, have only recently experienced an upsurge.

During the first quarter of this year, there were 9,068 visitors from Japan, 97.6% less than the 374,929 visitors in the first quarter of 2019.

Also in the first quarter, there were 107,072 visitors from Canada, down 49.8% from the 213,190 visitors in the first quarter of 2019.

As for cruise ships, 17,176 visitors entered the state via 13 out-of-state cruise ships during the first quarter of this year. This is compared to 40,172 visitors who came to Hawaiʻi through 21 out-of-state cruise ships and 30,341 visitors flew to Hawaiʻi and boarded the portable cruise ship from Hawaiʻi during the first quarter of 2019.

Hawaii’s portable cruise ship, Pride of America, resumed on April 9. Now more visitors should fly here in order to board the ship.

Last month, international travelers contributed to the increase in visitor arrivals, with Canadian visitors hitting the highest arrival levels since March 2020, according to DBEDT director Mike McCartney. In addition, slight increases in the number of Japanese visitors continue.

“We are hopeful as we continue to see a positive recovery due to domestic travel and the return of international visitors,” he said in a press release.

The director added that demand will continue to drive a faster-than-expected recovery.

“Demand for quality accommodations, food and beverages, activities, retail and services will provide the momentum needed for the state’s economic recovery to occur faster than expected,” said McCartney.

Hawaiʻi in 2019 saw approximately 10.3 million visitor arrivals, a record year. The state was on pace in 2020 to see a high volume of visitors until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which suppressed travel until tourism reopened with the Safe Travels program on October 15, 2020. .

The tourism industry rebounded faster than economic experts predicted due to pent-up economies and demand in the continental United States. Travel restrictions to Hawaii through the Safe Travels program ended last month, making it easier to visit.

Now economists are predicting that Hawaii will hit and surpass record numbers of visitor arrivals in the next few years.

Throughout this time, state and county leaders have sought ways to mitigate the negative impacts of overtourism on limited infrastructure, natural resources, and residents’ quality of life.

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