For the first time in more than a year, Hawai´i’s monthly visitor totals are beginning to mirror their pre-pandemic totals.
According to preliminary statistics released by the Hawai´i Tourism Authority (HTA), a total of 629,681 visitors arrived by air service to the Hawaiian Islands in May 2021, mainly from the mainland United States. In comparison, only 9,116 visitors arrived by air in May 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Hawai´i’s quarantine requirement for travelers.
Total spending for visitors arriving in May 2021 was $1.10 billion. There is no comparative visitor spending data available for May 2020.
Prior to the pandemic, Hawai´i experienced record-level visitor expenditures and arrivals in 2019, and in the first two months of 2020. When compared to 2019, visitor arrivals in May 2021 were down 25.7 percent from the May 2019 count of 847,396 visitors (air and cruise), and visitor spending decreased 22.2 percent from the $1.41 billion spent in May 2019.
In May 2021, the State’s Safe Travels program was still underway, with most passengers arriving from out-of-state able to bypass the 10-day self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 prior to departure. The counties of Hawai´i, Kaua´i, Maui and Kalawao (Moloka´i) also had a partial quarantine in place in May. The CDC enforced restrictions on cruise ships through a “Conditional Sail Order.”
The average daily census showed that there were 190,491 visitors in Hawai´i on any given day in May 2021, compared to 8,323 visitors per day in May 2020, and 228,768 visitors per day in May 2019.
In May 2021, a total of 1,312 visitors came from Japan, compared to 14 visitors (+9,357.8%) in May 2020, versus 113,226 visitors (-98.8%) in May 2019. Visitors from Japan spent $4.9 million in May 2021 compared to $162.4 million (-97.0%) in May 2019.
Only 564 visitors arrived from Canada in May 2021, compared to 20 visitors (+2,711.0%) in May 2020, versus 26,424 visitors (-97.9%) in May 2019.
A total of 1,960,796 visitors arrived in the first five months of 2021, down 8.3 percent compared to year-to-date May 2020. Total arrivals decreased 53.6 percent when compared to year-to-date May 2019 arrivals of 4,224,071 visitors.
For the first five months of 2021, total visitor spending was $3.43 billion. Visitor spending declined by 52.6 percent from the $7.23 billion spent in the first five months of 2019.