Hawaii visitor recovery gains strength

Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) reports that visitor numbers in January reached 96.8% of January arrivals in 2019, the benchmark year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to preliminary statistics.

A total of 791,781 visitors arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in January 2023, up 37.9% from January 2022.

Importantly, visitors are spending more– as measured in nominal dollars, DBEDT reports visitors spent $1.89 billion in January 2023, compared to $1.40 billion (+35.5%) in January 2022 and $1.62 billion (+17.2%) in January 2019.

Hawaii’s visitor industry and the state’s economic recovery continued to be driven primarily by increased spending among visitors from the U.S. West and U.S. East, followed by the steady recovery of key international visitor markets.

Total visitor spending from Canada in January 2023 nearly approached January 2019 levels, while total spending from the Japan market continued to improve.

There were 32,305 visitors from Japan in January 2023, compared to 2,850 visitors (+1,033.6%) in January 2022 and 120,418 visitors (-73.2%) in January 2019. Visitors from Japan spent $58.1 million in January 2023, compared to $11.6 million (+401.1%) in January 2022 and $173.4 million (-66.5%) in January 2019. Daily spending by Japanese visitors in January 2023 ($237 per person) increased compared to January 2022 ($216 per person, +9.7%), but was slightly lower than January 2019 ($240 per person, -1.0%).

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Hawaii’s January cruise ship numbers best in nearly three years

In January 2023, 16,648 visitors came to the Hawaiian islands aboard eight out-of-state cruise ships. Another 8,962 visitors flew to the state to board the Hawaii home-ported cruise ship, Pride of America. 

Hawaii’s cruise industry restarted with limited capacity in January 2022, after having no activities since April 2020 due to the pandemic. In January 2022, 7,004 visitors came aboard seven out-of-state cruise ships. Due to social distancing protocol and requirements for isolation cabins, these ships were operating at 40 to 70% of capacity.

The Pride of America continued to suspend inter-island cruises during the month.

In January 2019, 12,033 visitors arrived on seven out-of-state cruise ships; and another 9,358 visitors came by air to board the Pride of America.

“The tourism industry had a good start in 2023 with nearly a 97% recovery in arrivals. International visitors by air in January 2023 accounted for 23% of the total visitors by air – the highest since the start of the pandemic. January 2023 was the second-best month for arrivals from Japan and Canada for 34 months. The same was true for cruise ship arrivals during the month,” commented DBEDT Director Chris J. Sadayasu, adding that full recovery may take a few years.