HTA Report Tallies 2018 Hawai‘i Island Tourism Data

November 2, 2019, 9:39 AM HST (Updated November 2, 2019, 9:27 AM)
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Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. PC: HTA

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) released its 2018 report on statewide visitors statistics last week, showing January as the busiest month for tourism on Hawai‘i Island.

January saw 44,488 daily visitors, followed by February with 42,579 daily visitors and December with 41,791 daily visitors. The majority of visitors—83%—came for a vacation while about 9% came to visit friends or relatives. More than 4% visited Hawai‘i Island for their honeymoon and nearly 5% for meetings, conventions and incentives.

The report noted that “2018 was a challenging year” for Hawai‘i Island due to the Kīlauea East Rift Zone eruption from May through late August which destroyed more than 700 homes and numerous businesses in lower Puna. The tail end of the eruption was overlapped by heavy flooding and landslides brought by Hurricane Lane in August.

These events led to flight and cruise ships cancellations, and a significant drop in travel bookings.

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HTA reported that spending by visitors who arrived by air declined on Hawai‘i island by 1.6% to $2.35 billion during 2018. Arrivals decreased 3.4% to 1,706,218 visitors but daily spending remained roughly the same as 2017 at $184 per person.

The largest group of visitors to Hawai‘i Island continued to be from the U.S. West (42.7%), followed by U.S. East (26.6%), Japan (10.3%), Canada (5.5%), Asia (4.2%), Oceania (3.0%) and Europe (2.9%). Arrivals increased from the U.S. West (+2.1%) but declined from Canada (-9.8%), the U.S. East (-4.9%) and Japan (-4.0%) compared to 2017. Among the emerging markets, there were fewer visitors from Australia (-23.3%), China (-19.4%), Korea (-18.0%), New Zealand (-12.7%), Taiwan (-10.0%) and Europe (-8.1%).

More than half of Hawai‘i Island visitors stayed in hotels while almost 20% stayed in condominiums, 15% in rental homes, more than 10% with friends or relatives and slightly less than 10% in timeshares.

Graphic from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s 2018 Annual Visitor Research Report.

The full report provides the final statistics on Hawai‘i’s visitor industry in 2018 and a comprehensive comparison with 2017. The data includes visitors who came to Hawai‘i by air or by cruise ships. Visitors statistics were categorized by Major Market Areas (MMA), by select countries, purpose of trip, accommodation type, first-time or repeat visitor status and by island.

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