Maui Coronavirus Updates

DBEDT Report: “It Will Take Six Years for Visitor Arrivals to Recover to the 2019 Level”

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“It will take six years for visitor arrivals to recover to the 2019 level,” based on the 2009 great recession pace.  This is one of the facts and assumptions outlined in a 2nd Quarter 2020 report issued by the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, which was used in detailing the outlook for Hawaiʻi’s economy going forward.

The outlook was included in the department’s quarterly statistical and economic report released on Friday.  The department plans to release a follow up report for the third quarter in mid-August.

In the report, DBEDT projected that Hawaiʻi may see a double digit economic downturn in 2020 with the state’s economic growth to fall by a projected 12.1 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DBEDT projects that Hawaiʻi will welcome:

  • 3.4 million visitors in 2020–that’s a decrease of 67.5 percent from year before levels;
  • 6.2 million in 2021;
  • 8.3 million in 2022; and
  • 9.4 million in 2023.

According to the report, Hawaiʻi could see a return to 2019 visitor arrivals (to 10.4 million) in 2025.  That’s based on a list of facts and assumptions that also takes into account the timing of the resumption of cruise visitors the reopening of visitor industry business, among other economic factors.

“DBEDT projects that Hawaiʻi’s economic growth rate, as measured by the real gross domestic product (GDP), will drop by 12.1 percent in 2020, then will increase at:

  • +0.7 percent in 2021,
  • +0.6 percent in 2022, and
  • +1.1 percent in 2023,” according to the DBEDT’s economic outlook.

In terms of unemployment and jobs, the department says non-agriculture payroll jobs will decline by 8.9 percent in 2020, then will increase by:

  • +4.1 percent in 2021,
  • +2.9 percent in 2022, and
  • +1.3 percent in 2023.

As for the GDP, non-agriculture payroll jobs will not be recovered to pre-crisis level until 2025.

The unemployment rate reached 23.5 percent in April, but the DBEDT says it expects the rate will improve in May and June due to the Paycheck Protection Program loans to Hawaiʻi businesses and Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds.  The department is projecting rates of 8.6 percent for all of 2020, 7.3 percent for 2021, 6.5 percent in 2022 and 6.2 percent in 2023.

“Hawaiʻi was one of the hardest hit states economically, but is one of the safest states in the nation during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney. “While our economy will not recover overnight, Hawaii is well positioned because of our strong human will, innovative spirit and physical infrastructure. We are well positioned to go beyond recovery and evolve into a more balanced and diversified economy.”


The full report is available at:


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