Despite a drop in spending, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) Director Mike McCartney said: “Global travel is opening up and we are seeing pent up demand. We expect a strong summer and look forward to welcoming international visitors from Australia, New Zealand and Japan in the second half of the year.”
Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Hawaii’s quarantine requirements for travelers, the State of Hawaii achieved record-level visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2019 through February 2020. January 2022 visitor spending was lower compared to $1.73 billion (-19.0%) spent in January 2020 and $1.62 billion (-13.5%) reported for January 2019.
According to preliminary visitor statistics released by DBEDT, total spending by visitors who came to the islands in January 2022 was $1.40 billion, compared to $397.9 million (+251.4%) spent in January 2021.
A total of 574,183 visitors came in January 2022 and of that number 567,179 visitors arrived by air service, mainly from the U.S. West and U.S. East. Additionally, cruise operations resumed in January 2022 with the arrival of seven cruise ships that brought another 7,004 visitors to the state. In comparison, 171,976 visitors (+233.9%) arrived by air only in January 2021 since there were no cruise ship activities in 2021; versus 857,066 visitors (-33.0%) who came by air and by cruise ships in January 2020; and 817,600 visitors (-29.8%) who arrived by air and by cruise ships in January 2019.
In January 2022, domestic passengers could bypass the State’s mandatory five-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. Passengers arriving on direct international flights were subjected to federal U.S. entry requirements which included proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 24 hours of travel or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, prior to their flight. Cruise ships coming to Hawaii beginning in January 2022 are required to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the State Department of Transportation, Harbors Division. Cruise lines are required to follow strict health and safety protocols under the Hawaii’s Safe Travels program including vaccination, COVID-19 testing, and have a dedicated medical staff on board, cabins for isolation, and a contingency plan with local hospitals to handle any COVID issues.
The average daily census was 202,071 visitors in January 2022, compared to 80,770 visitors in January 2021; versus 268,423 visitors in January 2020; and 262,235 visitors in January 2019.
The President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) John De Fries had this to say: “Hawaii began the year with positive gains in total visitor spending and per person, per day visitor spending for January, which are two of the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s overall Key Performance Indicators as outlined in our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. Both measures contribute to the meaningful economic growth needed for our state’s recovery.
“The visitor industry continues to be a driver of job growth, career opportunities and economic diversification.”
“We continue our mission to Malama Kuu Home (caring for my beloved home), working diligently to achieve the balance desired by our communities for the well-being of Hawaii and generations to come.”
In January 2022, 326,496 visitors arrived by air from the U.S. West, compared to 112,020 visitors (+191.5%) in January 2021; versus 354,115 visitors (-7.8%) in January 2020; and 317,655 visitors (+2.8%) in January 2019. U.S. West visitors spent $705.6 million in January 2022, compared to only $225.7 million (+212.6%) in January 2021; versus $630.8 million (+11.8%) in January 2020; and $556.7 million (+26.7%) in January 2019. Higher average daily visitor spending also contributed to increased U.S. West visitor expenditures compared to January 2020 and January 2019.
There were 183,964 visitors from the U.S. East in January 2022, compared to 50,788 visitors (+262.2%) in January 2021; versus 199,815 visitors (-7.9%) in January 2020; and 185,253 visitors (-0.7%) in January 2019. U.S. East visitors spent $529.4 million in January 2022 compared to $137.9 million (+283.8%) in January 2021; versus $507.9 million (+4.2%) in January 2020; and $462.9 million (+14.4%) in January 2019. Higher average daily visitor spending and a longer length of stay contributed to the growth in U.S. East visitor expenditures compared to January 2020 and January 2019.
There were 2,850 visitors from Japan in January 2022; compared to 1,165 visitors (+144.7%) in January 2021; versus 117,995 visitors (-97.6%) in January 2020; and 120,418 visitors (-97.6%) in January 2019. Visitors from Japan spent $11.6 million in January 2022; compared to $4.8 million (+141.7%) in January 2021 versus $171.2 million (-93.2%) in January 2020; and $173.4 million (-93.3%) in January 2019.
In January 2022, 23,551 visitors arrived from Canada; compared to 2,898 visitors (+712.7%) in January 2021; versus 66,442 visitors (-64.6%) in January 2020; and 69,687 visitors (-66.2%) in January 2019. Visitors from Canada spent $69.5 million in January 2022 compared to $14.9 million (+364.9%) in January 2021; versus $161.7 million (-57.0%) in January 2020; and $165.4 million (-58.0%) in January 2019.
There were 30,318 visitors from All Other International Markets in January 2022. These visitors were from Oceania, Europe, Other Asia, Latin America, Guam, Philippines, and Pacific Islands. In comparison, there were 5,105 visitors (+493.9%) from All Other International Markets in January 2021; versus 107,769 visitors (-71.9%) in January 2020; and 112,554 visitors (-73.1%) in January 2019.
In January 2022, a total of 4,943 trans-Pacific flights with 1,036,109 seats serving the Hawaiian Islands; compared to 2,856 flights with 593,981 seats in January 2021; versus 5,419 flights with 1,202,300 seats in January 2020; and 5,158 flights with 1,134,182 seats in January 2019.
McCartney added: “We are pleased to see another milestone in the visitor industry recovery with over 7,000 cruise visitors in January 2022 after 21 months of suspension. Cruise activity is an important part of the overall tourism in the state with cruise visitors accounting for 2.6 percent of Hawaii’s total visitors in 2019.
“With the existence of the Omicron variant, visitor arrivals in January 2022 was over 70 percent of the January 2019 level, indicating that the demand for Hawaii visitation remains strong, especially from the U.S. mainland. Visitation by the U.S. visitors has been surpassing the 2019 levels since May 2021.
“Hard decisions were made to protect our communities so as we see positive movement, we must continue to remain vigilant and strategically monitor the stability of COVID-19 spread and the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine as it affects oil prices, air lift and consumer demand for travel.