DCCA News Release: Visitor Spending for September 2021 Declined 15.4 Percent from Pre-Pandemic September 2019

Posted on Oct 28, 2021 in Latest 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 September 2021 was $1.05 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. Comparative September 2020 visitor spending statistics were not available as the Departure Survey could not be conducted last September due to COVID-19 restrictions[1]. September 2021 visitor spending was lower than the $1.25 billion (-15.4%) reported for September 2019.

A total of 505,861 visitors arrived by air service to the Hawaiian Islands in September 2021, primarily from the U.S. West and U.S. East. In comparison, only 18,409 visitors (+2,647.8%) arrived by air in September 2020 and 736,155 visitors (-31.3%) arrived by air and by cruise ships in September 2019.

In September 2021, passengers arriving from out-of-state 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. On August 23, 2021, Hawai‘i Governor David Ige urged travelers to curtail non-essential travel until the end of October 2021 due to a surge in Delta variant cases that has overburdened the state’s health care facilities and resources. 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[2] was 154,355 visitors in September 2021, compared to 20,472 in September 2020, versus 206,169 in September 2019.

In September 2021, 338,680 visitors arrived from the U.S. West, far greater than the 10,170 visitors (+3,230.2%) in September 2020 and exceeding the September 2019 count of 305,808 visitors (+10.7%). U.S. West visitors spent $656.3 million in September 2021, which surpassed the $466.0 million (+40.8%) spent in September 2019. Much higher average daily visitor spending ($226 per person, +25.9%) contributed to increased U.S. West visitor expenditures compared to 2019.

There were 145,626 visitors from the U.S. East in September 2021, compared to 6,141 visitors (+2,271.5%) in September 2020, and 133,185 visitors (+9.3%) in September 2019. U.S. East visitors spent $341.0 million in September 2021 compared to $288.9 million (+18.0%) in September 2019. Higher average daily visitor spending ($237 per person, +3.9%) and a longer length of stay (9.86 days, +3.9%) contributed to the growth in U.S. East visitor expenditures.

There were 1,769 visitors from Japan in September 2021, compared to 86 visitors (+1,957.7%) in September 2020, versus 143,928 visitors (-98.8%) in September 2019. Visitors from Japan spent $6.2 million in September 2021 compared to $196.5 million (-96.9%) in September 2019.

In September 2021, 4,326 visitors arrived from Canada, compared to 173 visitors (+2,406.2%) in September 2020, versus 21,928 visitors (-80.3%) in September 2019. Visitors from Canada spent $12.7 million in September 2021 compared to $40.5 million (-68.8%) in September 2019.

There were 15,460 visitors from All Other International Markets in September 2021. These visitors were from Guam, Other Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Philippines, and Pacific Islands. In comparison, there were 1,840 visitors (+740.2%) from All Other International Markets in September 2020, versus 113,192 visitors (-86.3%) in September 2019.

In September 2021, a total of 4,629 trans-Pacific flights and 962,659 seats served the Hawaiian Islands, compared to only 711 flights and 156,220 seats in September 2020, versus 4,533 flights and 1,012,883 seats in September 2019.

Year-to-date 2021

Through the first nine months of 2021, total visitor spending was $9.03 billion. This was a decrease of 32.1 percent from the $13.30 billion spent through the first nine months of 2019.

A total of 4,859,655 visitors (+119.8%) arrived in the first nine months of 2021, double the arrival count from a year ago. Total visitor arrivals were down 37.9 percent compared to the 7,828,965 visitors in the first nine months of 2019.

[1] Comparative September 2020 and year-to-date September 2020 visitor spending statistics were not available, as there was no Departure Survey fielding between April through October 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

2 Average daily census measures the number of visitors present on any given day.

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Statement by DBEDT Director Mike McCartney:

Year to date through September 2021, numbers show that Hawai‘i’s visitor arrivals are down by 38% (3.2 million) and visitor spending is down by 32% ($4.2 billion) compared to 2019 levels. Over the past 18 months we have learned and done many things that collectively changed the trajectory of Hawai‘i.  We have shifted from fearing COVID-19 to respecting it, managing it and ultimately, living with it. Our actions to put public health before economic prosperity will start to pay dividends in the months to come. We now see positive signs that Hawai‘i’s visitor economy will begin to recover at an accelerated rate as we welcome our fully vaccinated international visitors. I am optimistic that we will end 2021 stronger and enter 2022 with solid momentum for growth. It will still be challenging at times, but I am confident Hawai‘i is ready, now more than ever, to be open for business.

Statement by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries:

The late summer surge of the delta variant continued to depress visitor spending and visitor arrivals in September, which had a negative impact on our state’s economy and more importantly, the health of our residents. However, despite the anticipated slowdown in fall travel we were encouraged to see the positive results from the U.S. West and U.S. East markets knowing how visitor spending translates into continued support for jobs in our community.

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[1] Comparative September 2020 and year-to-date September 2020 visitor spending statistics were not available, as there was no Departure Survey fielding between April through October 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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