Visitor satisfaction in Hawai‘i remains high despite Maui wildfires, survey finds

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Visitor education signage at Kahului Airport on Maui. (PC: Hawai‘i Tourism Authority)

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism recently released the results of its Third Quarter Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey for 2023, which found that at least 95% of visitors from each geographic region surveyed rated the Hawaiian Islands as “excellent” or “above average” when it comes to offering a variety of experiences.

Meanwhile, the majority of those surveyed ranked Hawai‘i as either “excellent” or “above average” in the number of different or unique experiences offered, including 98.7% of visitors from Korea, 98.4% of visitors from US East, and 98.2% of visitors from US West.

With visitor satisfaction being one of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s four major Key Performance Indicators, these results showcase positive sentiment on activities and experiences being offered statewide. Other Key Performance Indicators include resident sentiment, average daily visitor spending and total visitor spending.

Most visitors to Hawai‘i see the Hawaiian Islands as a destination that offers a variety of different and unique experiences, according to the latest Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey, which surveyed visitors from the US West, US East, Canada, Japan, Oceania, and Korea who visited Hawai‘i during July through September 2023.


More than 55% of visitors from each market surveyed indicated they were “very likely” to return to the state of Hawai‘i in the next five years, with the U.S. West, Hawai‘i’s largest major market area, leading the way at 83%. Nearly 73.5% of visitors from Korea, followed by 68.6% of visitors from Japan, are likely to return in the near future. 

Repeat visitors from the US West, US East, Japan, Canada, and Oceania expressed a greater likelihood of returning to the state than first-time visitors, and visitors from the US West, US East, and Canada who visited a single island expressed a higher likelihood of returning to the state than those who visited multiple islands during their stay. Every market that was surveyed attributed the high cost of vacationing in Hawai‘i as the biggest barrier to returning in the next five years.

Overall satisfaction levels among visitors from all markets surveyed remained high, with 90% of visitors from the US East rating their most recent trip to Hawai‘i as “excellent,” followed by 88.8% from the US West, 88.3% from Canada and Korea, 83.3% from Japan, and 76.4% from Oceania.

Nearly 60% of visitors from each market rated Hawai‘i as “excellent” in terms of being a safe and secure destination, including 86.5% of visitors from Canada, 84% from the US East, and 83.4% from the US West. 


Hawai‘i exceeded expectations for many visitors, with 60.3% from Korea, 55.4% from the US East, 54% from Canada, 47.9% from Japan, 47.3% from the US West and 33.5% from Oceania indicating their latest trip “exceeded expectations.”

Younger respondents (18-34 years old) from the US West, US East, Japan, and Canada were more likely to say their trip exceeded expectations compared to visitors from these markets in other age groups. Agreement with this sentiment tended to decline with age.

Special Section of Survey Added on Impact of Maui Wildfires

The August wildfires on the island of Maui destroyed homes, cultural and historical sites, and commercial businesses – including many visitor-focused restaurants and shops in the town of Lahaina in West Maui. A special analysis was conducted of data collected among visitors to the island from the US West and US East, the largest visitor markets for Maui.


Visitors who traveled to the island after the fires took place were less satisfied than previous visitors. While more than eight in 10 visitors from these markets still rated their trip as “excellent,” nearly 1 in 10 visitors who traveled after the fires took place admit their trip did not meet their expectations.

“The study shows that depth and range of experiences that the Hawaiian Islands provide play a pivotal role in fostering visitors’ satisfaction with their trips and enthusiasm to return,” said Daniel Nāhoʻopiʻi, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s interim president and CEO. “As we focus on tourism’s role in supporting Maui’s recovery, we will restore the demand for Maui by sharing the unique and attractive visitor activities across the island. Visitors will realize there is so much more to do on Maui.”

About the Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey

The VSAT is an ongoing survey of visitors from key visitor markets who recently completed a trip to Hawai‘i. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Tourism Research Branch contracted Anthology Research to conduct the VSAT survey for 2021-2023. 

The sampled visitor markets for Quarter 3 2023 were: US West (Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming), US East (all other states in the Continental US), Canada, Japan, Oceania, and Korea. Due to the relatively small number of visitors from China who completed the survey this quarter, data from that market are not highlighted.

Data were collected between July 11, 2023, and Oct. 16, 2023, among visitors who traveled to Hawai‘i during Quarter 3 2023. A total of 5,210 visitors were surveyed during this period; 1,573 from the US West, resulting in a margin of error of +/- 2.47%; 1,639 from the US East, with a corresponding margin of error of +/- 2.42%; 259 from Japan, with a margin of error of 6.09%; 897 from Canada, with a margin of error of +/- 3.27%; 496 from Oceania, with a margin of error of +/- 4.40%; and 305 from Korea, with a margin of error of +/- 5.61%. Note all margins of error are presented at the 95% level of confidence.

The full results from the Quarter 3 2023 VSAT are available online at:


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