Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 74° Today's Paper


February marks 7th monthly decline for Hawaii’s visitor industry

Allison Schaefers
STAR-ADVERTISER
                                Vacant beach loungers on the beach in Waikiki, on Feb. 26. The daily count of visitors in Hawaii and their daily spending dropped in February — the seventh monthly decline in a row since the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT).
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STAR-ADVERTISER

Vacant beach loungers on the beach in Waikiki, on Feb. 26. The daily count of visitors in Hawaii and their daily spending dropped in February — the seventh monthly decline in a row since the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT).

The daily count of visitors in Hawaii and their daily spending dropped in February — the seventh monthly decline in a row since the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT).

In February, DBEDT reported that on average there were 236,008 visitors each day in the Hawaiian islands, down 3.2% from the daily visitor census in February 2023, and a decrease of 4.4% from February 2019. Visitors spent $57.1 million per day on average in February, a 2.4% decline from February 2023 but up 15.2% from February 2019.

Since 2024 is a leap year, the daily comparison is more accurate. Monthly results reflected the loss of a day in 2019 and 2023.

This February, 772,480 visitors came to the Hawaiian islands and spent $1.64 billion. Arrivals were 2.5% better than February 2023, but 1.1% below February 2019. Visitor expenditures were 1.1 % higher than in February 2023 and 19.3% higher than in February 2019.

When compared to last year, the average daily census had decreased in all North American markets. It was down 6% from Hawaii’s core U.S. West, 10.6% from Hawaii’s second-largest visitor source market the U.S. East, and 9.4% from Canada.

The average daily census in February was up 77.2% from Japan compared to February 2023 and up 18% from the category DBEDT calls “ all other markets,” which includes all international markets outside of Japan and Canada. However, the gains were because most of Hawaii’s international markets have yet to recover from the COVID-19 drop.

Other signs of weakness included a 2.3% year-over-year drop in the average length of stay, which fell to 8.86 days this February. Also the average visitor spending per day only rose 1% year-over-year to nearly $242 and the average spending per trip fell 1.3% to nearly $2,144.

DBEDT Director James Kunane Tokioka said in a statement, “The visitor statistics indicate that our tourism industry continues to be soft. The main reasons for the weakness include the continued impact of the Maui wildfires and the shift of U.S. and Canadian visitors to other international destinations due to currency appreciation. The currency situation is expected to improve when the Federal Reserve starts to cut interest rates during the second half of 2024.”

Tokioka said a bright spot is the continued recovery of Japan and other international visitor source markets.

“With Governor Green’s most recent trip to Japan to strengthen tourism opportunities in partnership with the U.S. government, the Japanese government, and the private sector, we are optimistic about the outcomes to support travel and economic growth for Hawaii and Japan,” he said.

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