While the pandemic ravaged Hawaii’s early stages, Hawaii’s tourism industry is now stronger than ever. The average trip cost is higher for tourists visiting the U.S. mainland than before the pandemic.
Higher prices equals more demand, and this is only the beginning. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many Asian tourists who used to make up a large portion of Hawaii’s tourist population, are not returning to Hawaii as they were before the pandemic.
The future of Hawaii tourists will be more competitive than ever with the recent openings of the Asian border and major changes to the Hawaii tourism industry (including Disney Cruises and a tightening on tourist accessibility). There are still ways to travel to Hawaii that you can avoid crowds, reduce over-tourism, and save money.
Hawaii’s tourism is at an all-time high according to some metrics
In September 2022, Hawaii saw more than 700,000. This represents a 95.5% increase over the same month in 2019. According to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, while overall tourism numbers have not exceeded pre-pandemic levels, other metrics have been blown away.
These are the major changes in Hawaii tourism between September 2019 & September 2022.
Hawaii’s overall tourism spending is up 18.5%.
The average trip duration is up 5.9%.
29% more tourists are visiting the United States from other countries.
Inflation may be partially responsible for increased spending. According to NerdWallet analysis, the average price of airfare rose by 8% between September 2019-September 2022. Hotel prices, however, increased by 5%. However, the 16% increase in inflation nationwide is lower than the 18.5% increase in Hawaii’s spending.
Because of the increase in workcations, Hawaii stays are now longer than they were before the pandemic. The average September 2022 stay was 8.9 days. This is 5.9% more than the September 2019 average of 8.4 days.
People also spend more money on everyday activities such as hotels, tours, and food than before the pandemic. The September 2022 average spending per person per day was $236. This is 17.1% more than the September 2019 equivalent.
Oahu saw the largest increase in daily visitor spending, up 25%, out of all the islands. Oahu also saw significant investments in tourist-minded improvements, many of which placed a renewed emphasis on Hawaii’s history and culture.
After a decade-long restoration, the Ford Island Control Tower at Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum was finally ready to open this summer. In August 2022, the official relaunch of the Polynesian Cultural Centre’s Ali’i Luau was completed. It was launched in the fall of 2019, just before the pandemic shut downs. Seth Casey is a marketing manager at Polynesian Cultural Center and says that it’s the only luau on Hawaii to feature a historically accurate Hawaiian cultural presentation.
These additions are well received by tourists. According to DBEDT, more than two-thirds (23%) of the tourists from Canada and the U.S. participated in activities centered on history or culture during the first quarter 2022.
The supply of might not grow, which could increase prices
There might not be enough supply to meet all the demand. Most Hawaii residents don’t want to see more housing built.
77% want to crack down on illegal vacation rental, but 64% want no new rentals. This is according to the Spring 2022 Resident Survey by DBEDT, which surveyed nearly 2,000 Hawaiians between May 2022 and July 2022. It’s not just vacation rentals that are being questioned. 66% of respondents said they don’t want any more condos, hotels or timeshares to be built.
Hawaii tourists can also limit their activities. Park Maui will be piloting a project that restricts parking at Maui’s Kamaole Beach Parks on weekends and holidays. This winter, only residents of Maui County can park. For a fee, non-residents are allowed to park there after 10 AM. Residents can park for free. )
These changes are partly due to rising anti-tourism sentiment. 78% of residents agreed that tourism has more benefits than it does problems in 2009. However, this number has been steadily declining. It’s only 54 %. in 2022.
Some residents are more open to tourism than others. Oahu saw the greatest increase in visitor spending compared to pre-pandemic. Recently, pro-tourism sentiment has increased. This reverses a downward trend that started before the COVID-19 epidemic. According to DBEDT data, Oahu residents and Big Island residents were more likely to believe that tourism should continue to be encouraged than those living on Maui or Kauai.
In the meantime, a growing number of Maui and Kauai residents have declared that their island is “run for tourists at the expense local people” and that the “economy of tourism is too dependent on them.” They are more likely not to approve vacation rentals or to stop building hotels. They are also more likely than others to request resident-only days in parks and beaches.
Hawaii tourism is expected to continue to grow
Although the number of tourists visiting Hawaii is only 96% of pre-pandemic levels Signs point to 2023 being far higher.
DBEDT data shows that the number of tourists visiting the United States has increased dramatically, with 29% more visitors from September 2022 than September 2021. Tourism from other countries, including Japan, is down.
Japan accounted for 15% of all visitors to Japan in 2019, with more than 1.5million tourists visiting the country. For the moment, Japanese tourism is down 83 span>
This could change as Japan recently opened its borders to foreign independent travelers after nearly three years of severe pandemic restrictions. It’s now possible to travel to Japan without requiring a visa. And it will be much easier for Japanese citizens to reach Hawaii. After a period of hiatus due to pandemics, direct flights between the two destinations were resumed in August 2022. This makes it possible for travelers from Japan to travel to Hawaii again.
There are also cruises. During the first two years after the pandemic, Hawaii stopped cruise ship arrivals. According to DBEDT, 26 cruise ships from outside the country arrived in Hawaii during the first nine months 2022. They brought 40,658 tourists. This is far less than 44 cruise ships that brought 95,149 tourists to the region in the same time period in 2019. However, cruises are returning.
Disney Cruise Line has announced their first ever cruises through South Pacific. The voyage will take guests from Honolulu to Sydney and stop at American Samoa, Fiji, and American Samoa.
Are tourists allowed to travel to Hawaii? Yes, but be mindful.
There are many ways to reduce Hawaii’s tourism costs and save money. These are some ways to reduce both overtourism and costs when visiting the islands.
Visit historical sites and enjoy them: Although residents may disagree about tourism’s benefits they all agree that it is important to educate tourists about the island’s cultural and natural resources. Tourism activities such as the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Ali’i Luau are attempting to address that.
Casey said that the creators of the show took great care to get feedback from cultural experts before they started production in 2019.
The Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last ruler monarch, is the inspiration for the luau. Onstage, performers tell her story in her own words. They also play original compositions she composed.
Avoid renting a car for mass transit. Don’t let the thought of driving around Hawaii in a rental car scare you. You can do it. Oahu, with its public transportation system, TheBus and private Waikiki Trolley, is the easiest Hawaiian island without a car. It also has the Waikiki Trolley, which stops at many major tourist attractions. You might consider taking small groups on other islands rather than renting a car or fighting traffic alone. It might be a good idea to hire someone to drive you around Maui’s famed Road to Hana.
Respect nature’s resources: Although you can enjoy time outdoors at a fraction of the cost, it is important to respect the environment. Do not leave behind trash or carve your name into trees. Instead, stay on trails as much as possible.
Look for hotels that do not charge resort fees. This is a common aspect of travel in popular places like Hawaii. These fees, which are semi-hidden, cover expenses like the cost of the pool or gym membership but they are non-negotiable. The fees will still be charged even if you do not use the facilities.
Some hotels, however, have chosen not to charge them. Courtyard Oahu North Shore offers, for example: standard amenities such as a swimming pool, waterfall, and cultural activities like ukulele lessons and hula classes, with no additional charge.
Dave Betham, general manager of the property, says that they view it from a guest’s perspective. We like the idea of no surprises .”
Making Hawaii tourism more accessible to residents and locals
Hawaii tourism continues to grow and looks set for new heights that surpass even pre-pandemic levels.
Hawaii is a popular vacation spot for tourists. You can escape colder climates by visiting Hawaii. It also offers the opportunity to experience a new culture through different foods, activities, and historic sites.
Many in Hawaii’s tourism industry want to provide activities that respect the environment. This includes Betham, the above-mentioned, and Aaron Campbell, who runs Climbworks Keana Farms on Oahu’s North Shore.
Campbell states that visitors should come but they should also be responsible.
Tourists are educated about Hawaii’s culture, history, and farming during the 10-minute trip to the top. The zipline tour is filled with educational exhibits.
Betham states, “As we look at the push for tourism that has been going through, we are reexamining its value.” “How can we make this experience better for our guests, better and better for Hawaiians span>
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