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DBEDT NEWS RELEASE: International students in Hawaii spent $255 million in 2016/17

Posted on Jul 19, 2017 in Latest Department News

HONOLULU – The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released a report today, which analyzes the impact of international students on Hawaii’s economy.

DBEDT’s Research and Economic Analysis Division (READ) created the report, while the Business Development & Support Division (BDSD) leads the state’s efforts for international student exchange.

The report, “The Economic Impact of International Students in Hawaii – 2017 Update,” shows direct spending by foreign students in Hawaii was $225.3 million for the 2016/17 school year.  This estimate includes the total living expenses and institutional tuition and fees.

The 25 percent spending decline from 2015/16, when direct spending by international students reached $302 million, reflects the broader nationwide recent trend of fewer foreign students applying to study in the U.S.

“We continue to promote cross-cultural understanding with international student exchanges to develop a global citizenry that we all desire,” said Gov. David Ige. “We understand the important role that education plays in cultivating the leaders of tomorrow into responsible global citizens.”

“The recent decline is part of a global trend for foreign students, but we will continue to take steps to attract and promote international student exchanges, as they have the potential for future business relationships, which benefit the economy,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria.

Dennis Ling, administrator for BDSD, which leads the program for international student exchanges added:  “We continue to work with our education partners to attract more foreign students to our classrooms.  Although there was a year over year decline, foreign students studying in Hawaii is very much a significant industry contributing much to our economy.”

Including the ripple effects, the total economic impact of international students are as follows:

  • $484 million in total economic output, including direct and indirect effects.
  • 5,093 jobs were supported by foreign student spending.
  • $32.5 million in state taxes was generated from the foreign students.

Hawaii hosted international students from all over the globe. Japan remains the top country of origin for Hawaii’s international students, followed by S. Korea and China.

The reasons for the decline in 2016/17 range from more countries emphasizing in-country education, which is the case with Japan, as well as economic factors, and increased marketing by other destinations.

To counter the trend, DBEDT and the 29-member Study Hawaii consortium of schools that banded together to market Hawaii as a study destination will:

  • Implement a Study Hawaii Ambassador Program aimed at students who visit and study in Hawaii to spread the word via social media as a place for education.  The first Ambassadors of 80 students from Yasuda Women’s University of Hiroshima will be inducted on July 20 at graduation ceremonies conducted by the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii English Language Program (HELP).
  • Host a press familiarization tour for education journalists from Asia and Europe.  Journalists will be brought to Hawaii to visit and meet with Hawaii’s educational institutions to learn about Hawaii as an education center.

The full report is available at:

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Media Contacts:

Christine Hirasa

Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

Phone: (808) 587-9006

Mobile: (808) 286-9017

Email: [email protected]