Hawai‘i Visitor Arrivals and Spending Down 50% in March 2020

April 30, 2020, 10:14 AM HST · Updated April 30, 10:14 AM
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Kahului Airport on Friday, March 27, 2020.

Economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are documented in new data released today by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, detailing statistics for Hawaii’s visitor industry in March 2020.

Maui’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 20, while the state’s mandatory stay-at-home order took effect nearly a week later on March 26, followed by a statewide mandatory traveler quarantine on March 28.  In April, a statewide interisland travel ban started on April 1; and Maui’s Bed & Breakfast and Short Term Rental Home ban went into effect on April 11.

Statewide in March 2020, both visitor spending and arrivals were down more than 50 percent compared to a year ago, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the preliminary HTA statistics released today.

Flight cancellations to the Hawaiian Islands began in February 2020, initially affecting the China market. In March the majority of flights to Hawai‘i were cancelled, and the industry began seeing a more marked impact.

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On March 13, most cruise lines voluntarily suspended ship operations in US waters. On March 17, Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige asked upcoming visitors to postpone their trips for at least the next 30 days. The counties also began issuing stay-at-home orders. As of March 26, all passengers arriving from out-of-state were required to abide by a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.

As a result, visitor spending was down 52.2 percent in March 2020, year-over-year. Visitors to Hawai‘i spent a total of $720.2 million.

Also in March, visitor arrivals were down 53.7 percent compared to a year ago. A total of 434,856 visitors traveled to Hawai‘i, comprising arrivals by air service (-53.6% to 430,691) and cruise ships (-64.8% to 4,165). Total visitor days1 declined 49.7 percent versus a year ago.

Arrivals by air service decreased from Japan (-66.1%), Canada (-65.0%), All Other International Markets (-60.6%), U.S. West (-49.7%) and U.S. East (-45.9%).

A total of 943,095 trans-Pacific air seats serviced the Hawaiian Islands in March, down 20.9 percent from a year ago, due to reduction/suspension of flights from Other Asia (-64.5%), Canada (-48.9%), Oceania (-37.3%), Japan (-26.7%), U.S. East (-14.2%) and U.S. West (-14.0%).

*Below are island highlights provided by the HTA on visitor spending, arrivals and arrival demographics.

Maui:

In March, visitor spending dropped 49.7 percent to $221.6 million. Total visitor days decreased (-51.1%), but average daily spending was up (+2.9% to $209 per person) compared to a year ago. Visitor arrivals declined 54.5 percent to 125,943 with fewer visitors from Canada (-72.7%), Japan (-67.4%), U.S. West (-50.0%) and U.S. East (-47.0%). The average daily census decreased 51.1 percent to 34,164 visitors in March.Through the first quarter, visitor spending (-10.2% to $1.19 billion) and visitor arrivals (-17.6% to 603,188) were down compared to a year ago.
O‘ahu:

In March, visitor spending decreased 56.7 percent to $299.3 million. Total visitor days dropped 50.4 percent and average daily spending was lower (-12.6% to $171 per person). Visitor arrivals to O‘ahu declined considerably (-55.2% to 238,305) due to fewer visitors from Japan (-66.5%), Canada (-64.6%), U.S. West (-49.5%) and U.S. East (-45.7%). The average daily census was down 50.4 percent to 56,417 visitors in March.Through the first quarter, visitor spending (-21.2% to $1.59 billion) and arrivals (-17.4% to 1,223,012) decreased compared to a year ago.

Kaua‘i:

In March, visitor spending decreased 48.2 percent to $78.9 million. Visitor days declined 50.9 percent but average daily spending (+5.5% to $179 per person) was higher compared to a year ago. Visitor arrivals were down by half (-54.2% to 56,865) due to fewer travelers from Japan (-74.2%), Canada (-64.8%), U.S. East (-51.8%) and U.S. West (-51.7%). The average daily census showed 14,249 visitors in March (-50.9%).Through the first quarter, visitor spending (-8.3% to $441.5 million) and visitor arrivals (-15.9% to 281,681) declined compared to the same period a year ago.

Hawai‘i Island:

In March, visitor spending decreased 44.3 percent to $113.4 million as a result of declines in visitor days (-43.8%) and average daily spending (-0.9% to $170 per person). Arrivals dropped 53.6 percent to 78,389 visitors with fewer travelers from Japan (-51.3%), U.S. West (-50.1%), U.S. East (-46.5%) and Canada (-42.9%). The average daily census decreased 43.8 percent to 21,519 visitors in March.Through the first quarter, visitor spending (-4.0% to $625.0 million) and visitor arrivals (-14.6% to 390,138) declined versus a year ago.

Year-to-Date 2020

The HTA reports that substantial decreases in March entirely offset positive results in January and February, and contributed to losses in visitor spending and arrivals for the first quarter of 2020.

Visitor spending dropped 14.1 percent compared to the first quarter of 2019 to $3.89 billion, with decreases from U.S. West (-7.9% to $1.51 billion), U.S. East (-6.7% to $1.16 billion), Japan (-19.7% to $415.7 million), Canada (-20.7% to $361.5 million) and All Other International Markets (-34.8% to $434.5 million) compared to a year ago.

Total visitor arrivals in the first quarter declined 16.4 percent to 2,125,486 visitors due to fewer arrivals by air (-16.3% to 2,095,695) and cruise ships (-24.8% to 29,792) versus a year ago. Total visitor days dropped 15.1 percent.

Visitor arrivals by air service in the first quarter decreased from U.S. West (-11.8% to 908,883), U.S. East (-11.1% to 514,309), Japan (-21.5% to 294,228), Canada (-25.7% to 155,735) and All Other International Markets (-27.9% to 222,540).

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