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DBEDT News Release: Visitor spending for July 2021 decreased 6.8% from pre-pandemic July 2019

Posted on Aug 30, 2021 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU – According to preliminary visitor statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) total spending by visitors arriving in July 2021 was $1.58 billion.

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Hawai‘i’s quarantine requirement for travelers, the Hawaiian Islands experienced record-level visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2019 and in the first two months of 2020. Comparative, July 2020 visitor spending statistics were not available as there were no Departure Survey fielding between April through October 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitor spending decreased compared to $1.70 billion (-6.8%) in July 2019.

A total of 879,551 visitors arrived by air service to the Hawaiian Islands in July 2021, primarily from the U.S. West and U.S. East. Only 22,562 visitors (+3,798.4%) arrived by air in July 2020. Visitor arrivals in July 2021 declined from the July 2019 count of 995,210 visitors (-11.6%).

During July 2021, most passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling inter-county could bypass the State’s mandatory 10-day self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing Partner prior to their departure to Hawai‘i through the Safe Travels program. In addition, individuals who were fully vaccinated in the United States could bypass the quarantine order beginning July 8. There were no inter-county travel restrictions in July. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) enforced restrictions on cruise ships through a “Conditional Sail Order”, a phased approach for the resumption of passenger cruises to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 onboard.

The average daily census[1] was 265,392 visitors in July 2021, compared to 17,970 in July 2020, versus 286,419 in July 2019.

In July 2021, 578,629 visitors arrived from the U.S. West, well above the 12,890 visitors (+4,388.9%) in July 2020 and exceeding the July 2019 count of 462,676 visitors (+25.1%). U.S. West visitors spent $961.0 million in July 2021, which surpassed the $669.8 million (+43.5%) spent in July 2019. Higher average daily visitor spending ($186 per person, +12.4%) and a longer average length of stay (8.95 days, +2.1%) also contributed to the growth in U.S. West visitor expenditures compared to 2019.

There were 272,821 visitors from the U.S. East in July 2021, compared to 7,516 visitors (+3,530.0%) in July 2020, and 243,498 visitors (+12.0%) in July 2019. U.S. East visitors spent $558.8 million in July 2021 compared to $510.7 million (+9.4%) in July 2019.  A longer length of stay (9.94 days, +2.6%) also contributed to the increase in U.S. East visitor expenditures. Daily spending ($206 per person) was lower compared to July 2019 ($216 per person).

There were 2,817 visitors from Japan in July 2021, compared to 54 visitors (+5,162.0%) in July 2020, versus 134,587 visitors (-97.9%) in July 2019. Visitors from Japan spent $11.2 million in July 2021 compared to $186.5 million (-94.0%) in July 2019.

In July 2021, 1,999 visitors arrived from Canada, compared to 94 visitors (+2,018.9%) in July 2020, versus 26,939 visitors (-92.6%) in July 2019. Visitors from Canada spent $5.5 million in July 2021 compared to $50.1 million (-88.9%) in July 2019.

There were 23,285 visitors from All Other International Markets in July 2021. These visitors were from Guam, Other Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Philippines, and Pacific Islands. In comparison, there were 2,008 visitors (+1.059.5%) from All Other International Markets in July 2020, versus 127,510 visitors (-81.7%) in July 2019.

In July 2021, a total of 6,275 trans-Pacific flights and 1,292,738 seats served the Hawaiian Islands, compared to only 741 flights and 162,130 seats in July 2020, versus 5,681 flights and 1,254,165 seats in July 2019.

Year-to-date 2021

Through the first seven months of 2021, total visitor spending was $6.60 billion[2]. This represented a 37.5 percent drop from the $10.55 billion spent through the first seven months of 2019[3].

A total of 3,631,400 visitors arrived in the first seven months of 2021, an increase of 66.7 percent from a year ago. Total arrivals were 41.1 percent lower compared to the 6,166,392 visitors in the first seven months of 2019.

Statement by Director Mike McCartney

“Hawaii’s economy was on a clear path of recovery and was gaining momentum over the first seven months of 2021. We experienced strong expenditures and arrivals in July from the US market exceeding 2019 levels by 29 percent (+ $339.3 million) for expenditures and 21 percent (+ 145,267) for arrivals. Hawai‘i’s US guest spends about $113 more per person per trip in 2021.

“These record numbers were aided by pent up consumer demand, an excess supply of aircraft, limited choices for international summer travel and an influx of federal stimulus money. The overall rate of recovery in July was at 88 percent with very limited international arrivals (two percent).

“As we complete the high summer season and enter the slower fall season we will experience a natural decline in arrivals from the US market during this traditional shoulder period. During this time, we have no new projected international arrivals, so it is expected to be slower than normal for the overall market. The market is also anticipated to be softer as we see a decline in the future booking pace due to the uncertainty created around the COVID-19 Delta variant. We expect arrivals to slow in both September and October starting after the Labor Day weekend. Arrivals could dip between a range of 50 percent to 70 percent of the 2019 level.

“If we can contain and effectively control the spread of the Delta variant and it’s negative impact on our health care systems we certainly can expect travel, including international travel, to start to come back strongly in mid-November and continue to grow through the holiday travel season in December 2021 and continuing into January, February and March of 2022.”

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[1] Average daily census measures the number of visitors present on any given day.

[2] Visitor spending statistics for January – June 2021 have been revised.

[3] Comparative data for 2020 were not available.