Hawai‘i’s visitor industry continues to be impacted significantly by the global COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2021, visitor arrivals dropped 80.1 percent compared to a year ago, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Tourism Research Division.
In January, a total of 171,976 visitors traveled to Hawai‘i by air service, compared to 862,574 visitors who came by air service and cruise ships a year ago. Most of the visitors were from the U.S. West (112,020, -68.2%) and U.S. East (50,788, -74.6%). In addition, 2,898 came from Canada (-95.6%) and 1,165 visitors came from Japan (-99.1%). There were 5,105 visitors from All Other International Markets (-95.2%). Many of these visitors were from Guam, and a small number of visitors were from Other Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Philippines and Pacific Islands. Total visitor days declined 70.0 percent compared to January 2020.
During January, most passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling intercounty could bypass the State’s mandatory 10-day self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing Partner through the state’s Safe Travels program. All trans-Pacific travelers participating in the pre-travel testing program were required to have a negative test result before their departure to Hawai‘i. On Dec. 2, 2020, Kaua‘i County temporarily suspended its participation in the state’s Safe Travels program, making it mandatory for all travelers to Kaua‘i to quarantine upon arrival. However, starting Jan. 5, 2021, Kaua‘i County rejoined the Safe Travels program for interisland arrivals, allowing interisland travelers who have been in Hawai‘i for more than three days to bypass the quarantine with a valid test result. Also starting Jan. 5 on Kaua‘i, trans-Pacific travelers were given the option of participating in a pre- and post-travel testing program at a “resort bubble” property as a way to shorten their time in quarantine. The counties of Hawai‘i, Maui and Kalawao (Moloka‘i) also had a partial quarantine in place in January. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to enforce the “Conditional Sailing Order” on all cruise ships.
Total visitor spending in January 2021 was $383.3 million, down 77.6 percent compared to a year ago. U.S. West visitors spent $225.7 million (-63.7%) in January, and their average daily spending was $153 per person (-17.7%). U.S. East visitors spent $137.9 million (-72.8%) and $167 per person, per day (-25.9%). Visitors from Japan spent $4.8 million (-97.4%), and their daily spending was $204 per person, per day (-15.2%). Visitors from Canada spent $14.9 million (-90.7%) and $172 per person (-2.1%) on a daily basis. Spending data for visitors from other markets were not available.
There were 2,856 (-47.3%) trans-Pacific flights that serviced the Hawaiian Islands in January. This represented a total of 593,981 air seats, down 50.6 percent from a year ago. There were no scheduled seats from Oceania, and considerably fewer scheduled seats from Other Asia (-96.6%), Japan (-91.1%), Canada (-89.4%), U.S. East (-53.2%), U.S. West (-30.5%), and Other countries (-57.6%) compared to a year ago.
U.S. West: In January 2021, 82,625 visitors arrived from the Pacific region compared to 267,896 visitors a year ago, and 29,328 visitors came from the Mountain region compared to 75,594 a year ago. In terms of accommodations, 34.9 percent of U.S. West visitors stayed in hotels, 24.4 percent stayed in condominiums, 15.9 percent stayed with friends and relatives, 14.6 percent stayed in rental homes and 13.1 percent stayed in timeshares.
Daily visitor spending was $153 per person, down from $186 per person a year ago. Lodging, food and beverage, transportation, and entertainment and recreation expenses were lower, while shopping expenses were similar to January 2020.
Key U.S. West markets had travel restrictions in place during January. California residents returning from non-essential travel were encouraged to quarantine for 10 days. San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles counties ordered a mandatory 10-day quarantine for people coming from outside their regions. In Oregon, returning residents were advised to practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Washington continued to recommend a 14-day quarantine for residents returning from interstate and international travel.
U.S. East: Of the 50,788 U.S. East visitors in January, the majority were from the East North Central (11,654, -73.3%), South Atlantic (10,293, -72.3%) and West South Central (8,869, -66.0%) regions. In terms of lodging, 41.1 percent of U.S. East visitors stayed in hotels, 18.8 percent stayed in condominiums, 18.4 percent stayed with friends and relatives, 14.0 percent stayed in rental homes and 11.7 percent stayed in timeshares.
Daily visitor spending dropped to $167 per person compared to $225 per person a year ago. Lodging, food and beverage, transportation, and entertainment and recreation expenses decreased, while shopping expenses rose slightly compared to January 2020.
In New York, returning residents in January could “test out” of the mandatory 10-day quarantine by obtaining a COVID-19 test within three days before their return, and also quarantining for three days. On the fourth day of their quarantine, the traveler had to obtain another COVID-19 test. If both tests came back negative, the traveler could exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative test.
Japan: In January, 1,165 visitors arrived from Japan compared to 128,686 visitors a year ago. Of the total, 1,124 visitors arrived on international flights from Japan and 41 came on domestic flights. Among Japanese visitors in January, 45.4 percent stayed in hotels, 20.6 percent stayed with friends and relatives, 17.3 percent stayed in condominiums and 7.0 percent stayed in timeshares.
Visitors spent an average of $204 per person, per day in January compared to $240 per person the previous year. Lodging costs were higher but food and beverage, shopping, transportation, entertainment, and recreation expenses declined.
In January, the Japanese government reinstated a travel ban for most arriving passengers to contain the spread of the mutated strain of COVID-19. Returning Japanese nationals were required to present a medical certificate showing a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before their flight. They also had to self-isolate for two weeks and were prohibited from using public transportation. Travelers from Japan could bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 10-day quarantine with a valid negative test result from a Trusted Testing Partner in Japan.
Canada: In January, 2,898 visitors arrived from Canada compared to 65,123 visitors a year ago. Direct flights from Canada brought 2,356 visitors while 542 visitors arrived on domestic flights. Among Canadian visitors in January, the majority (75.8%) stayed in hotels, while 9.3 percent stayed in condominiums, 6.4 percent stayed in rental homes and 4.3 percent stayed in timeshares.
Daily visitor spending of $172 per person was slightly down from $176 per person a year ago. Food and beverage expenses increased, while transportation, shopping, entertainment and recreation expenses declined. Lodging expenses were similar to January 2020.
The U.S. and Canadian governments extended cross-border travel restrictions to non-essential travel through at least March 21, 2021. Air travelers five years of age or older were required to provide their airline with a negative COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of travel to Canada. All passengers, including returning Canadian residents were also required to quarantine for 14 days. Travelers from Canada could bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 10-day quarantine with a valid negative test result from a Canada Trusted Testing Partner.