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Visitor arrivals down 69% for 1st 8 months of 2020; nearly 98% drop in August

Only 22,344 visitors flew into Hawaii in August, a nearly 98% monthly drop in arrivals that widened year-to-date losses to 69% for the first eight months of this year.

These preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Tourism Research Division today were impacted by the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for visitors that has been in place since March 26 for all travelers to Hawaii unless they have an exemption for something like work or heathcare.

Come Oct. 15, Hawaii Gov. David Ige has said that travelers that participate in a pre-arrivals testing program to Hawaii will have an opportunity to bypass the quarantine. But visitors who don’t elect to get an approved COVID-19 test within the approved time frame will have to abide by the quarantine, which is currently in place through Oct. 31 and is expected to be extended again.

Travel demand had dampened severely this summer due to coronavirus fears and surges in Hawaii and in mainland cities. However, the quarantine and other lockdowns also have suppressed demand as most people don’t want to travel to Hawaii just to sit in a hotel room for 14 days.

Under these conditions, air service to Hawaii, which is primarily a fly-to destination, dropped considerably over the summer and is expected to return slowly along with travel demand for the islands.

HTA data shows that trans-Pacific air service in August fell to 179,570 trans-Pacific air seats, a more than 85% drop from August 2019. Also, there weren’t any cruise ships coming to Hawaii since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still had a “No Sail Order” on all cruise ships.

In August of 2019, HTA reported that 926,417 visitors had traveled to Hawaii. During the first eight months of 2019, nearly 7.1 million visitors came to Hawaii as compared to just over 2.2 million during the same period this year. On any given day in August, there were only 21,917 visitors across the Hawaiian islands, as compared to 252,916 in August 2019.

The August results were similar to the July results, when Hawaii got 22,562 visitors who came by air, a 98% drop from the 995,210 visitors who came by air in July 2019. In July, the average daily census of visitors by air statewide was 17,970 as compared to 286,419 in July 2019.

The mix of August visitors was still heavily dependent on U.S. trans-Pacific travelers to Hawaii.

Most of Hawaii’s August visitors, some 12, 778, came from its core U.S. West market. Another 7,407 of the August visitors came from Hawaii’s second best U.S. East market. The international market, which has been harder hit by restrictions from the U.S. and their own countries, did not have much of an August presence. Only 220 visitors came to Hawaii in August from Japan, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan still has a quarantine requirement for all Japanese nationals who travel to Japan from the U.S.

The 100 visitors, who traveled to Hawaii in August from Canada came on domestic flights as U.S. borders with Canada have been closed since March.

As many as 1,839 visitors came to Hawaii in August that were part of the category that HTA calls “other other international markets,” mainly comprised of visitors from Guam, and smaller numbers from the Philippines, Other Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Puerto Rico and the Pacific Islands.

Interisland travel was severely impacted by the Aug. 11 reinstatement of a partial interisland quarantine for those traveling to the counties of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui, and Kalawao. The bulk of visitors in August, some 15,915, went to Oahu. Hawaii island had 3,729 visitors in August, Maui had 2,341, Kauai got 1,361, Molokai had 104 and there were only 78 visitors that went to Lanai.

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