Maui County visitor arrivals last month exceed pre-pandemic highs
May 26, 2022, 4:11 PM HST
* Updated May 26, 4:13 PM
For the first time since the pandemic struck Hawaiʻi, monthly visitor arrivals to Maui County exceeded historic highs set in 2019.
There were 254,398 visitors to Maui last month — a nearly 3% increase from April 2019, when visitors numbered 247,984, according to preliminary visitor statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released today.
Maui’s average daily census, the number of visitors present on any given day, was 67,943 visitors last month compared with 63,280 visitors in April 2019, representing a more than 7% increase.
While domestic arrivals have exceeded pre-pandemic highs, it is the first month that total arrivals for Maui have breached numbers set in 2019.
For Maui, visitor spending also increased last month by nearly 25% compared to 2019. Last month, visitors spent $496.7 million compared to $398.6 million in April 2019.
State economists have predicted that the state won’t reach or surpass pre-pandemic annual highs for another few years, but recent data hints that those thresholds will be broken sooner.
Statewide, the month of April brought the highest recovery rate of visitor spending and arrivals since February 2020, according to Mike McCartney, DBEDT director.
It was also the 12th consecutive month in which visitor arrivals from the continental U.S. surpassed the same month’s level in 2019.
“Daily spending by U.S. visitors increased by 24.5 percent, which supported our communities, businesses and state tax revenues,” McCartney said in a press release.
Overall, the state saw a 96.3% recovery last month compared to the same month in 2019.
Driven by the US Mainland market, 809,612 visitors arrived by air service. Also, 8,656 visitors arrived by cruise ships.
In comparison, 849,397 visitors arrived by air and by cruise ships in April 2019 — 3.7% lower than last month.
The average length of stay by all visitors in April 2022 was 8.68 days, up 5.2% from 8.25 days in April 2019.
HTA President and CEO John De Fries said in the news release that several international destinations remained inaccessible to U.S. travelers last month, and Hawaii continued to be a preferred destination for many of those travelers from the U.S. West and U.S. East markets.
He added that travel will likely increase into the summer.
“As we move into the summer months, we are anticipating a more robust recovery of our international markets, especially Japan,” De Fries said.
In 2019, Hawai’i saw a historic high of more than 10 million visitor arrivals, with 3 million landing in Maui County. Visitor arrivals remained strong into early 2020 before travel was shut down in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
Maui County residents since tourism was reopened in October 2020 have increased calls for better tourism management. They have testified at many Maui County Council meetings about the negative impacts of over-tourism on limited natural resources, on infrastructure and on quality of life.
As a result, Maui County council members placed a temporary moratorium on the construction of units for hotels and other transient vacation rentals. Also, the council is mulling whether to place a permanent cap on transient accommodations for Maui.
The council recently sent the proposal to Maui Planning Commission and other advisory bodies for feedback. The measure now awaits an agenda date.
At the state level, lawmakers had called for funding to study issues surrounding over-tourism.
Also, HTA recently launched a campaign for visitor education.