DBEDT News Release: VISITOR SPENDING FOR DECEMBER 2021 DECLINED 5.5 PERCENT FROM PRE-PANDEMIC DECEMBER 2019Posted on Jan 27, 2022 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 who came to the islands in December 2021 was $1.66 billion.
Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Hawai‘i’s quarantine requirements for travelers, the State of Hawai‘i achieved record-level visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2019 and in the first two months of 2020. December 2021 visitor spending was lower compared to the $1.75 billion (-5.5%) reported for December 2019. Comparative total spending statistics for December 2020 were not available as data was from U.S. West and U.S. East visitors only. December 2020 spending data by visitors from other markets were unavailable because of limited fielding due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A total of 753,670 visitors arrived by air service to the Hawaiian Islands in December 2021, primarily from the U.S. West and U.S. East. In comparison, 236,575 visitors (+218.6%) arrived by air in December 2020 and 952,441 visitors (-20.9%) arrived by air and by cruise ships in December 2019.
In December 2021, domestic passengers could bypass the State’s mandatory 10-day self-quarantine if they were fully vaccinated in the United States or with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing Partner prior to their departure through the Safe Travels program. Beginning December 6, passengers arriving on direct international flights were subjected to federal U.S. entry requirements which included proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken within 24 hours of travel or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, prior to their flight. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to enforce 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 was 247,711 visitors in December 2021, compared to 94,688 in December 2020, versus 284,924 in December 2019.
In December 2021, 447,089 visitors arrived from the U.S. West, far greater than the 152,276 visitors (+193.6%) in December 2020 and surpassing the December 2019 count of 418,520 visitors (+6.8%). U.S. West visitors spent $875.1 million in December 2021, compared to only $280.4 million (+212.1%) in December 2020, and exceeding the $697.6 million (+25.4%) spent in December 2019. Higher average daily visitor spending ($211 per person, +16.9%) also contributed to increased U.S. West visitor expenditures compared to December 2019.
There were 228,834 visitors from the U.S. East in December 2021, compared to 71,630 visitors (+219.5%) in December 2020, and 215,358 visitors (+6.3%) in December 2019. U.S. East visitors spent $595.1 million in December 2021 compared to $170.4 million in December 2020, versus $488.3 million (+21.9%) in December 2019. Higher average daily visitor spending ($244 per person, +12.2%) and a longer length of stay (10.65 days, +2.2%) contributed to the growth in U.S. East visitor expenditures compared to December 2019.
There were 4,448 visitors from Japan in December 2021, compared to 1,724 visitors (+158.1%) in December 2020, versus 136,635 visitors (-96.7%) in December 2019. Visitors from Japan spent $14.5 million in December 2021 compared to $210.9 million (-93.1%) in December 2019.
In December 2021, 36,876 visitors arrived from Canada, compared to 4,063 visitors (+807.5%) in December 2020, versus 64,182 visitors (-42.5%) in December 2019. Visitors from Canada spent $97.6 million in December 2021 compared to $129.6 million (-24.7%) in December 2019.
There were 36,424 visitors from All Other International Markets in December 2021. These visitors were from Other Asia, Europe, Oceania, Latin America, Guam, Philippines, and Pacific Islands. In comparison, there were 6,882 visitors (+429.2%) from All Other International Markets in December 2020, versus 106,434 visitors (-65.8%) in December 2019.
In December 2021, a total of 5,182 trans-Pacific flights and 1,088,154 seats served the Hawaiian Islands, compared to only 2,848 flights and 599,440 seats in December 2020, versus 5,676 flights and 1,252,958 seats in December 2019.
For all of 2021, total visitor spending was $13.0 billion. This was a drop of 26.6 percent from the $17.7 billion spent in 2019. Comparative annual 2020 visitor spending statistics were not available.
In 2021, visitor spending increased from the U.S. West (+14.1% to $7.93 billion), but declined from U.S. East (-8.3% to $4.29 billion), Canada (-78.0% to $238.4 million), Japan (-96.3% to $82.9 million) and All Other International Markets (-83.4% to $447.5 million) compared to 2019.
The average daily spending by visitors in 2021 increased to $199 per person (+1.4%), compared to $196 per person in 2019. Visitors from U.S. West (+10.9% to $194 per person) and Canada (+7.9% to $178) spent more per day, while visitors from U.S. East (-0.6% to $211), Japan (-9.4% to $219), and All Other International Markets (-16.9% to $186) spent less compared to 2019.
A total of 6,777,498 visitors (+150.3%) arrived in 2021, more than double the arrival count of 2,708,258 visitors in 2020. Total visitor arrivals decreased 34.7 percent compared to 10,386,673 visitors in 2019.
The average length of stay of the 2021 visitor was 9.64 days, compared to 10.58 days in 2020, versus 8.70 days in 2019.
The average daily census was 179,022 visitors in 2021, compared to 78,305 in 2020, versus 247,564 in 2019.
Statement by DBEDT Director Mike McCartney:
The U.S. visitor count in December 2021 was the eighth consecutive month surpassing the same month compared to 2019 levels and the international count at 77,748, at the highest level since March 2020.
In December, the Omicron variant was detected for the first time in Hawai‘i, which was already spreading rapidly across the country. The emergence of this variant resulted in the slowdown of arrivals that will likely continue through the first quarter of 2022.
As long as Hawai‘i remains a safe destination we can regain our momentum with visitor arrivals to recover in the second quarter of this year. We remain on target to welcoming more visitors in 2022 than we did in 2021.
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Director of Tourism Research
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism
 Average daily census measures the number of visitors present on any given day.
 Comparative annual 2020 visitor spending statistics were not available, as the Departure Survey could not be conducted between April through October 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.