December Visitor Arrivals Down Over 75%
Visitor arrivals in December remained at less than 25% of last year’s totals, as the coronavirus left its grim stamp on Hawai‘i’s tourism industry to close out 2020.
December travel to the islands from the mainland United States accounted for about one-third of the number of arrivals it created during the same time period last in 2020, while travel from Canada and Japan were almost completely non-existent compared to last year.
This past December, a total of 235,793 visitors traveled to Hawai‘i by air service, compared to 952,441 visitors who came by air service and cruise ships in December 2019, according to statistics released by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Most of the visitors were from the US West (151,988, -63.7%) and US East (71,537, -66.8%).
In addition, 3,833 visitors came from Canada (-94.0%) and 1,889 visitors came from Japan (-98.6%). There were 6,547 visitors from All Other International Markets (-93.8%). Many of these visitors were from Guam, and a small number of visitors were from Other Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Philippines and Pacific Islands. Total visitor days declined 66.9% compared to December 2019.
Beginning Oct. 15, passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling intercounty could bypass the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner through the state’s Safe Travels program.
Effective Nov. 24, all trans-Pacific travelers participating in the pre-travel testing program were required to have a negative test result before their departure to Hawai‘i, and test results would no longer be accepted once a traveler arrived in the state.
On Dec. 2, Kaua‘i County temporarily suspended its participation in the state’s Safe Travels program, making it mandatory for all travelers to that island to quarantine upon arrival.
On Dec. 10, the mandatory quarantine was reduced from 14 to 10 days in accordance with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines. The counties of Hawai‘i, Maui, and Kalawao (Moloka‘i) also had a partial quarantine in place in December. In addition, the CDC continued to enforce the “No Sail Order” on all cruise ships.
Spending statistics for December 2020 were all from US visitors. Data for visitors from other markets were not available. US West visitors spent $280.4 million (-59.8%) in December, and their average daily spending was $157 per person (-12.8%). US East visitors spent $170.4 million (-65.1%) and $182 per person (-16.5%) on an average daily basis.
A total of 599,440 trans-Pacific air seats serviced the Hawaiian Islands in December, a decrease of 52.2% from a year ago. There were no scheduled seats from Oceania, and significantly fewer scheduled seats from Other Asia (-97.9%), Japan (-93.2%), Canada (-78.3%), US East (-47.7%), US West (-36.4%), and Other countries (-55.4%) compared to a year ago.
Annual 2020 Statistics
Flight cancellations to the Hawaiian Islands began in February 2020, initially affecting the China market. On March 14, the CDC began enforcing the No Sail Order on cruise ships. On March 17, Governor David Ige asked upcoming visitors to postpone their trips for at least the next 30 days. The counties also began issuing stay-at-home orders.
Effective March 26, all passengers arriving from out-of-state were required to abide by a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Exemptions included travel for essential reasons like work or health care. By the end of March, the majority of flights to Hawai‘i were cancelled, and the visitor industry was severely impacted.
On April 1, the mandatory self-quarantine was extended to interisland travel and the state’s four counties enforced strict stay-at-home orders and curfews that month. Nearly all trans-Pacific flights to Hawai‘i were cancelled in April.
For all of 2020, total visitor arrivals declined 73.8% from the previous year to 2,716,195 visitors. There were significantly fewer arrivals by air service (-73.8% to 2,686,403). Arrivals by cruise ships (-79.2% to 29,792) also decreased considerably, as cruise ships were operating only for the first few months of the year. Total visitor days fell 68.2%.
In 2020, visitor arrivals by air service decreased sharply from US West (-71.6% to 1,306,388), US East (-70.3% to 676,061), Japan (-81.1% to 297,243), Canada (-70.2% to 161,201) and All Other International Markets (-80.4% to 245,510).