Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Has tourism fully bounced back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Preliminary statistics released by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism last week seem to suggest that it has — on Kaua‘i at least.
According to this report, 133,517 visitors came to Kaua‘i in June 2022, about the same as in June 2019 (134,790). The average daily census on Kaua‘i was 34,631 visitors in June 2022, up from 32,986 visitors (+5%) in June 2019.
Kaua‘i has been outpacing the state in terms of tourism recovery. Hawai‘i as a whole was only at 89% of its June 2019 visitor level, with a total of 842,927 visitors in June 2022.
Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa Director of Marketing and Communications Manager Diann Hartman said that since reopening in 2021, the Po‘ipu property has been receiving as many bookings as they had before the pandemic. She attributed Kaua‘i’s quicker bounce back to trends in international travel.
“It’s that there’s a higher demand from Japanese and Korean travelers in O‘ahu. They’ve had restrictions that are just now starting to open up in those countries,” said Hartman. “Kaua‘i gets the fewest from that market.”
International tourism still has not come close to pre-pandemic levels. There were 11,940 visitors from Japan to Hawai‘i last month, down 90.6% from the 126,592 visitors in June 2019.
These numbers have been steadily trending upward.
“We are seeing positive movement going into the second half of the year with the return of visitors from outside of the U.S.,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney.
“International travelers saw a 31.2% recovery during the first half of 2022, with arriving visitors from Japan at the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic, in June 2022, which represented a 9.4% recovery rate from the same month in 2019,” sid McCartney.
He reported that, for the first half of 2022, Japan visitor recovery was 4.8%, and that 12 more flights from Japan were added in June, with more are expected in the next few months,
Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, agreed that the international market explained Kaua‘i’s quicker resurgence, along with an increase in the meetings, conventions and incentives travelers.
“We have meetings that were postponed due to the pandemic and moved to this year,” said Kanoho.
The statistics also showed that tourists have been spending more money than pre-pandemic.
Visitors spent $1.83 billion in the state in June 2022, an increase of 12.3% compared to the $1.63 billion reported for June 2019. On Kaua‘i, visitor spending last month was $231.2 million, compared to $196.1 million (+17.9%) in June 2019. For the first half of 2022, total visitor spending on Kaua‘i was $1.06 billion, compared to $963.6 million (+9.5%) in the first half of 2019.
Kanoho attributed the increased spending to favorable economic trends and a general plan to focus on attracting higher-spending tourists.
“We have been a relatively safe and open destination for the US traveler, while other international destinations have not been,” she said.
“That increase in demand for our islands, coupled with our long-term branding plans and high visitor-satisfaction ratings, has also supported the dramatically high increase in visitor spending across lodging, food and beverage, entertainment and recreation, transportation and shopping,” Kanoho said.
Inflation also likely played a role in this trend, with prices for everything from rental cars to food to hotels to gas up across the board.
“This significant shift indicates our current visitors are spending substantially more on their Hawai‘i trip, counter to the misperception that we are seeing a lower-spending, budget traveler,” said Hawai‘i Tourism Authority President John De Fries. “Even with these higher-spending visitors, we must continue our efforts in destination management to ensure the balance of economic benefits with environmental and community wellbeing.”
Each visitor averaged spending $223 a day and $1,732 per trip.
Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 647-0329 or email@example.com.
This is all nonsense and there is no real formula to “attract” higher spending tourists. It’s pretty easy to understand, even for a simple person like me, that the reason the tourists are spending more is because I am also spending more as a local person for everything under the sun here. Stop trying to act like these higher numbers of spending mean something positive as in reality all of it is neutralized by paying higher cost of living via goods consumed, taxes and this thing called inflation that half the Country seems to think is “transitory” or simply non-existent. Those in power can’t even define what inflation is which is a convenient way of passing blame to anyone and everyone else they can find.
I got an idea, take the $ from the Tourism bureau’s and put it towards affordable housing. We don’t need these departments that cost millions per year just so they can parade around acting like they have some sort of benefit to the local people in this community and State. I would bet Tourism would not decline if they disappear, which should make one question why they need to exist any longer in a world wide digital economy.
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