Visitor satisfaction in Hawaiʻi rivals pre-pandemic levels, state survey finds
A survey of visitors from Hawai‘i’s primary North American markets finds overall satisfaction continues to trend upward since the beginning of the year and now rivals pre-pandemic levels.
The findings were part of the results from the third quarter 2022 Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey of 5,145 tourists conducted by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
For the first time since the second quarter of 2020, the survey included data from visitors from Japan, Korea and Oceania, in addition to the US West, US East and Canada.
Over the past two years, reporting had been limited due to insufficient visitation for this study.
Arrivals from Japan, Korea and Oceania continue to increase, with the vast majority of visitors from these markets rating their latest trip to Hawai‘i as “excellent.”
Visitor satisfaction is a key performance indicator of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Strategic Plan, along with resident satisfaction, average daily visitor spending and total visitor spending.
“An essential component of Hawai‘i’s sustained recovery is the high level of visitor satisfaction during the third quarter,” said John De Fries, HTA president and CEO. “These high ratings are attributable to the many kama‘āina who work directly or indirectly in hospitality — from flight attendants and front desk agents, to stewards of our natural and cultural resources, to musicians and entertainers, and shop owners and restaurant servers.”
Visitors rating their most recent trip to Hawai‘i as “excellent” included US West (88.7%), US East (89.4%), Canada (87.8%), Japan (81.3%), Oceania (80.6%) and Korea (84.6%).
Following a significant dip in satisfaction among visitors to Hawai‘i in quarter 3 of 2020 — when much of the state was shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the percentage of visitors to Hawai‘i from US markets who rated their trip “excellent” has continued to recover from the same period in the prior year of quarter three 2021.
“The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s comprehensive approach to destination management and visitor education places the community’s needs first and foremost,” De Fries said. “We aim to foster the right balance in which Hawai‘i’s residents, natural resources and culture can thrive, and visitors can have a meaningful, enriching experience.”
Prior to or during their trip, the majority of visitors surveyed from the US West, US East, Canada, Japan and Korea recalled seeing or hearing information about safe and responsible travel; caring for and respecting Hawai‘i’s culture, people and environment; and ocean and hiking safety. Oceania was the only market from which a minority of visitors reported receiving this information.
Hawai‘i exceeded expectations among many visitors, with 45.5% from US West, 56.4% from US East, 49.1% from Canada, 42.6% from Japan, 37.1% from Oceania, and 56.6% from Korea indicating their latest trip “exceeded expectations.”
First-time visitors from the US West, US East, Japan and Canada expressed higher degrees of satisfaction than repeat visitors from those markets.
The proportion of US visitors who indicated they are likely to return to Hawai‘i in the next five years held steady when compared to the same period in 2021, with travelers indicating a willingness to return at 82.6% among those from the US West (78.4% in Q3 2021) and 60% among those from the US East (62.7% in Q3 2021).
More than three in five visitors indicated they are likely to return from Japan (73.5%), Canada (64.1%), Oceania (61%) and Korea (71.1%). From Canada, 69% expressed interest in returning in the near future.
The high cost of a vacation in Hawai‘i was the top reason cited for being unlikely to revisit in the next five years among visitors from all markets surveyed.
The majority of visitors in quarter three 2022 from all markets surveyed are “very likely” to recommend the Hawaiian Islands as a vacation destination to their friends and family.
Typically seven visitor markets are analyzed in these quarterly surveys, but due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, visitors from China were not surveyed as this market did not have sufficient visitation for this study.