Business

September Visitor Spending in Hawai´i Down 15% From Pre-Pandemic Total

October 28, 2021, 11:25 AM HST
* Updated October 28, 11:26 AM
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Hapuna beach on the Big Island before sunset.

Visitor spending is bouncing back in Hawai´i, but the September figures were still more than 15% lower than they were during 2019.

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Hawai´i’s quarantine requirements for travelers, the state achieved record-level visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2019 and in the first two months of 2020.

Comparative September 2020 visitor spending statistics were not available as the Departure Survey could not be conducted last September due to COVID-19 restrictions. September 2021 visitor spending was lower than the $1.25 billion reported for September 2019. According to preliminary visitor statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), total spending by visitors who came to the islands in September 2021 was $1.05 billion.

Just over a half million visitors arrived by air service to the Hawaiian Islands in September 2021, primarily from the U.S. West and U.S. East. In comparison, only 18,409 visitors arrived by air in September 2020 and 736,155 visitors arrived by air and by cruise ships in September 2019. 

In September 2021, passengers arriving from out-of-state could bypass the state’s mandatory 10-day self-quarantine if they were fully vaccinated in the United States or with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing Partner prior to their departure through the Safe Travels program.

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On Aug. 23, 2021, Hawaii Governor David Ige urged travelers to curtail non-essential travel until the end of October 2021 due to a surge in Delta variant cases that has overburdened the state’s health care facilities and resources. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to enforce restrictions on cruise ships through a “Conditional Sail Order,” a phased approach for the resumption of passenger cruises to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 onboard.

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The average daily census was 154,355 visitors in September 2021, compared to 20,472 in September 2020, versus 206,169 in September 2019.

In September 2021, a total of 4,629 trans-Pacific flights and 962,659 seats served the Hawaiian Islands, compared to only 711 flights and 156,220 seats in September 2020, versus 4,533 flights and 1,012,883 seats in September 2019. 

Year-to-date 2021

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Through the first nine months of 2021, total visitor spending was $9.03 billion. This was a decrease of 32.1 percent from the $13.30 billion spent through the first nine months of 2019.

A total of 4,859,655 visitors (+119.8%) arrived in the first nine months of 2021, double the arrival count from a year ago. Total visitor arrivals were down 37.9 percent compared to the 7,828,965 visitors in the first nine months of 2019.

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