Business

Visitor Arrivals to Hawai´i Increase for First Time During Pandemic

April 29, 2021, 11:15 AM HST
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For the first time in a year, visitor arrivals climbed in Hawai´i.

The arrival during March 2021 rose 1.1% compared to a year ago, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawai´i Tourism Authority (HTA).

This was the first time in 12 months visitor arrivals were up, but the year-to-date arrivals were still significantly down (-60.1%). A total of 439,785 visitors traveled to Hawai´i by air service last month, compared to 434,856 visitors who came by air service (430,691, +2.1%) and cruise ships (4,165 visitors) in March 2020. The average daily census showed that there were 137,440 visitors in Hawai´i on any given day in March 2021, compared to 127,760 visitors per day in March 2020.

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The COVID-19 pandemic started taking a drastic toll on Hawaii’s visitor industry a year ago. On March 26, 2020, the state implemented a 14-day mandatory travel quarantine. Subsequently, nearly all trans-Pacific and interisland flights were canceled, cruise ship activities were suspended and tourism all but stopped. This continued until mid-October when the state initiated the Safe Travels program, which allowed trans-Pacific travelers to bypass the quarantine if they had a valid negative test for COVID-19.

During March 2021, most passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling inter-county could bypass the State’s mandatory 10-day self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing Partner through the state’s Safe Travels program. 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.

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Kaua´i County continued to temporarily suspend its participation in the state’s Safe Travels program, making it mandatory for all trans-Pacific travelers to Kaua´i to quarantine upon arrival except for those participating in a pre- and post-travel testing program at a “resort bubble” property as a way to shorten their time in quarantine. The counties of Hawai´i, Maui and Kalawao (Moloka´i) also had a partial quarantine in place in March. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to enforce the “Conditional Sailing Order” on all cruise ships.

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In March, most of the visitors were from the U.S. West (296,117, +47.4%) and U.S. East(133,162, +10.8%). In addition, 1,051 visitors came from Japan (-97.7%) and 326 visitors came from Canada (-98.8%). There were 9,129 visitors from All Other International Markets (-75.9%). 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 increased 7.6 percent. Total visitor spending in March was $745.9 million. U.S. West visitors spent $492.4 million (+55.4%), and their average daily spending was $176 per person (-1.1%). U.S. East visitors spent $249.8 million (+8.4%) and $188 per person, per day (-6.5%). Visitors from Japan spent $3.7 million (-94.5%), and their daily spending was $213 per person, per day (-10.9%). Visitor spending data from other markets were not available.

There were 3,266 (-23.4%) trans-Pacific flights that serviced the Hawaiian Islands in March. This represented a total of 665,209 air seats, down 29.5 percent from a year ago. There were no scheduled seats from Oceania, and considerably fewer scheduled seats from Canada (-97.5%), Japan (-94.0%) and Other Asia (-91.8%). Seats from U.S. East (-15.3%) and U.S. West (-9.7%) also declined to a lesser extent. Seats from Other countries (Guam and Manila) increased (+96.5%) compared to a year ago.

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