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Report: Visitors Simply Spending More in 2022

July 28, 2022, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated July 28, 10:59 AM
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Mike McCartney

Tourism numbers – especially dollars spent – continue to trend upward.

According to preliminary visitor statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism – DBEDT – a total of 842,927 visitors came to the Hawaiian Islands in June 2022, representing an 89% recovery from June 2019.

Though the recovery rate in June was lower than the previous two months, the visitor count for that month was the second best since January 2020. Also, visitors spent $1.83 billion in the state in June 2022, an increase of 12.3% compared to the $1.63 billion reported for June 2019.

DBEDT Director Mike McCartney pointed to the uptick on visitor spending as a strong indicator that the bleaker pandemic days are in the rear view.

“We are seeing positive movement going into the second half of the year with the return of visitors from outside of the U.S., McCartney said. “International travelers saw a 31.2% recovery during the first half of 2022 with arriving visitors from Japan at the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.”

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On Hawai‘i Island, which is getting ready for the return of Japan Airlines direct flights into Kona beginning Tuesday, the number of visitors between the two months was also down, but visitor spending was up significantly.

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On the Big Island, 157,443 visitors landed in June compared to 163,564 visitors (-3.7%) in June 2019. But visitor spent $247.2 million this year compared to $205.8 million (+20.1%) in June 2019.

Those numbers mirror how it’s gone for the first half of 2022.

Through the first six months of the year, there have been 812,729 visitors to the Big Island, down 7.7% from 2019. They’ve spent, however, $1.28 billion, up 11% from two years ago.

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Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries pointed to the average daily visitor spending increase as a positive sign but added the state must continue to work at promoting the balance to low-impact tourism it wants.

“This significant shift indicates our current visitors are spending substantially more on their Hawai‘i trip, counter to the misperception that we are seeing a lower-spending, budget traveler,” De Fries said. “Even with these higher-spending visitors, we must continue our efforts in destination management to ensure the balance of economic benefits with environmental and community wellbeing.”

View the full report here.

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