Survey: Visitor satisfaction in Hawaiʻi continues upward trend, rivals pre-pandemic levels
Overall satisfaction among visitors from Hawai‘i’s primary North American markets has continued its upward trend since the beginning of the year to rival pre-pandemic levels, state officials said.
The findings were part of the results from the Q3 2022 Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. The survey for the first time since Q2 2020, include data from visitors from Japan, Korea and Oceania, in addition to US West, US East and Canada.
Over the last two years, reporting had been limited due to insufficient visitation for this study.
While arrivals from Japan, Korea and Oceania continue to increase, overall indications among visitors from these markets show a vast majority rate their latest trip to Hawai‘i as “excellent.” Visitor satisfaction is a key performance indicator (KPI) of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Strategic Plan, along with resident satisfaction, average daily visitor spending and total visitor spending.
“An essential component of Hawai‘i’s sustained recovery is the high level of visitor satisfaction during the third quarter. These high ratings are attributable to the many kama‘āina who work directly or indirectly in hospitality — from flight attendants and front desk agents, to stewards of our natural and cultural resources, to musicians and entertainers, and shop owners and restaurant servers,” said John De Fries, HTA president and CEO.
Visitors rating their most recent trip to Hawai‘i as “excellent” included US West (88.7%), US East (89.4%), Canada (87.8%), Japan (81.3%), Oceania (80.6%) and Korea (84.6%). Following a significant dip in satisfaction among visitors to Hawai‘i in Q3 2020, the percentage of visitors to Hawai‘i from US markets who rated their trip “excellent” has continued to recover from the same period in the prior year (Q3 2021).
“The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s comprehensive approach to destination management and visitor education places the community’s needs first and foremost,” said De Fries in a department press release. “We aim to foster the right balance in which Hawai‘i’s residents, natural resources and culture can thrive, and visitors can have a meaningful, enriching experience.”
Prior to or during their trip, the majority of visitors surveyed from the US West, US East, Canada, Japan and Korea recalled seeing or hearing information about safe and responsible travel; caring for and respecting Hawai‘i’s culture, people and environment; and ocean and hiking safety. Oceania was the only market from which a minority of visitors reported receiving this information.
Hawai‘i exceeded expectations among many visitors, with 45.5% from US West, 56.4% from US East, 49.1% from Canada, 42.6% from Japan, 37.1% from Oceania, and 56.6% from Korea indicating their latest trip “exceeded expectations.” First-time visitors from the US West, US East, Japan, and Canada expressed higher degrees of satisfaction than repeat visitors from those markets.
The proportion of US visitors who indicated they are likely to return to Hawai‘i in the next five years held steady when compared to the same period in 2021, with travelers indicating a willingness to return at 82.6% among those from the US West (78.4% in Q3 2021) and 60% among those from the US East (62.7% in Q3 2021). More than three in five visitors indicated they are likely to return from Japan (73.5%), Canada (64.1%), Oceania (61%) and Korea (71.1%). Nearly seven-in-ten visitors from Canada (69%) expressed interest in returning in the near future. The high cost of a vacation in Hawai‘i was the top reason cited for being unlikely to revisit in the next five years among visitors from all markets surveyed.
The majority of visitors in Q3 from all markets surveyed are “very likely” to recommend the Hawaiian Islands as a vacation destination to their friends and family. Visitors from North American markets are the most likely to recommend, led by Canadians at 89.8%, followed by visitors from the US West (89.6%) and US East (89.3%). More than three in four visitors from Japan (77.4%), Oceania (77.7%) and Korea (75.1%) share the same likelihood to recommend the destination.
The VSAT is an ongoing survey of visitors from key visitor markets who recently completed a trip to Hawai‘i. Typically seven visitor markets are analyzed, but due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, visitors from China were not surveyed as this market did not have sufficient visitation for this study.
DBEDT’s Tourism Research Branch contracted Anthology Research to conduct the VSAT survey. Data were collected between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, 2022, among visitors who traveled to Hawai‘i during Q3 2022. A total of 5,145 visitors were surveyed during this period; 1,641 from the US West, resulting in a margin of error of +/- 2.42%; 1,737 from the US East, with a corresponding margin of error of +/- 2.35%; 113 from Japan, with a margin of error of 9.22 %; 1,034 from Canada, with a margin of error of +/- 3.05%; 392 from Oceania, with a margin of error of +/- 4.95%; and 190 from Korea, with a margin of error of +/- 7.11%. Note all margins of error are presented at the 95% level of confidence.