Kauai News

Visitor Arrivals to Hawai´i Increase for First Time During Pandemic

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For the first time in a year, visitor arrivals climbed in Hawai´i.

The arrival during March 2021 rose 1.1% compared to a year ago, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawai´i Tourism Authority (HTA).

This was the first time in 12 months visitor arrivals were up, but the year-to-date arrivals were still significantly down (-60.1%). A total of 439,785 visitors traveled to Hawai´i by air service last month, compared to 434,856 visitors who came by air service (430,691, +2.1%) and cruise ships (4,165 visitors) in March 2020. The average daily census showed that there were 137,440 visitors in Hawai´i on any given day in March 2021, compared to 127,760 visitors per day in March 2020.

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The COVID-19 pandemic started taking a drastic toll on Hawaii’s visitor industry a year ago. On March 26, 2020, the state implemented a 14-day mandatory travel quarantine. Subsequently, nearly all trans-Pacific and interisland flights were canceled, cruise ship activities were suspended and tourism all but stopped. This continued until mid-October when the state initiated the Safe Travels program, which allowed trans-Pacific travelers to bypass the quarantine if they had a valid negative test for COVID-19.


During March 2021, most passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling inter-county 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.

Kaua´i County continued to temporarily suspend its participation in the state’s Safe Travels program, making it mandatory for all trans-Pacific travelers to Kaua´i to quarantine upon arrival except for those 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 March. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to enforce the “Conditional Sailing Order” on all cruise ships.

In March, most of the visitors were from the U.S. West (296,117, +47.4%) and U.S. East(133,162, +10.8%). In addition, 1,051 visitors came from Japan (-97.7%) and 326 visitors came from Canada (-98.8%). There were 9,129 visitors from All Other International Markets (-75.9%). 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 increased 7.6 percent. Total visitor spending in March was $745.9 million. U.S. West visitors spent $492.4 million (+55.4%), and their average daily spending was $176 per person (-1.1%). U.S. East visitors spent $249.8 million (+8.4%) and $188 per person, per day (-6.5%). Visitors from Japan spent $3.7 million (-94.5%), and their daily spending was $213 per person, per day (-10.9%). Visitor spending data from other markets were not available.

There were 3,266 (-23.4%) trans-Pacific flights that serviced the Hawaiian Islands in March. This represented a total of 665,209 air seats, down 29.5 percent from a year ago. There were no scheduled seats from Oceania, and considerably fewer scheduled seats from Canada (-97.5%), Japan (-94.0%) and Other Asia (-91.8%). Seats from U.S. East (-15.3%) and U.S. West (-9.7%) also declined to a lesser extent. Seats from Other countries (Guam and Manila) increased (+96.5%) compared to a year ago.


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