October visitor arrivals to Hawaii fell 30.8% compared with the same month in pre-pandemic times, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
A lack of international visitors to Hawaii and continued coronavirus fears combined with Gov. David Ige’s late-August plea for travelers to avoid non-essential trips to Hawaii through October resulted in a month that was almost as bad as September. That’s noteworthy since September had the worst monthly dip compared with the same month in pre-pandemic times since April.
October visitor spending, which reached $1.12 billion, also was 15.4% below the $1.33 billion generated in October 2019. Spending comparisons are not available from October 2020 because the departure survey was not conducted due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In October, 550,781 visitors arrived by air to the islands. October arrivals were up significantly from the 76,691 visitors who came to Hawaii in October 2020, the first half month that non-leisure travelers were allowed to begin bypassing the pandemic-related mandatory travel quarantine. However, the results were down from the 796,191 who traveled to Hawaii in October 2019.
On any given day in October, there were 164,454 visitors in Hawaii. The results were up from an average of 39,432 visitors a day in 2020, but below the 215,125 in October 2019.
Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries said in a statement, “The statistics we saw for October 2021 demonstrate continued strength in domestic demand for travel to the Hawaiian islands, and we expect to see demand grow in international markets with the new streamlined federal requirements for vaccinated travelers entering the U.S., and as nations around the world begin to modify their COVID-related restrictions.
“The growth in demand is encouraging for our economy and a credit to the people of Hawaii who have been diligent in keeping our community safe and healthy, and keeping the spirit of aloha alive.”
Indeed, the domestic market in October outperformed October 2019. It was up by 3% from 2019 for the U.S. West, Hawaii’s core visitors market. Some 364,687 visitors from the U.S. West spent $687.3 million, which surpassed October 2019’s spending by 27.6%.
As many as 157,003 visitors came from the U.S. East in October, up 6% from the same month in 2019. They spent $360.6 million, an increase of 19.2% from October 2019.
The gains weren’t high enough to offset continued flat-lining from Hawaii’s international markets, which most affected Oahu.
Only 2,155 visitors arrived in October from Japan, the state’s top international market — a decline of 98.4% from October 2o19. Spending by visitors from Japan in October also dropped 96.5% to $6.9 million from the same month in pre-pandemic times.
Some 9,657 visitors traveled to Hawaii from the mature Canadian visitor market, but that was down 70.1% from October 2019.Visitors from Canada spent $s30.3 million in October down 51.9% from October 2019.
Only 17,279 visitors came to Hawaii from other international markets outside of Japan and Canada — a 83.8% decline from October 2019.
Year-to-date through October Hawaii welcomed more than 5.4 million visitors, down 37.3% from the first 10 months of 2019. Visitor spending during the same time period fell 30.6% to $10.16 billion.
There was not any cruise ship activities during the first 10 months of 2021. During the same period, there were 41,906 trans-Pacific fights and more than 8.6 million seats compared with the first 10 months of 2019 when there were 51,219 flights and nearly 11.3 million seats.
“Although we are 37 percent below 2019 levels, we are now on pace to end 2021 ahead of DBEDT’s third-quarter economic forecast of 6.8 million visitor arrivals and $12.2 billion in visitor spending due to a strong U.S. leisure market,” DBEDT Director Mike McCartney said in a statement. “Hawaii’ s visitor economy is doing better than expected and is open for business.”