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Hawaii visitor spending continues to drop


(The Center Square) — Visitors are spending less when they visit Hawaii even though more are arriving, the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism said Thursday.

Spending was down 2.4% in November when compared to the previous year. However, the number of tourists increased by 0.3% to 731,233, according to DBEDT.

Visitors from Japan drove the spike. The number of Japanese tourists increased by 142.2% in November compared to last year’s numbers.

“The influx of visitors from Japan remains strong with 62,893 arrivals and a recovery rate of 47.8 percent, marking the highest recovery rate since April 2020,” said DBEDT Director James Kunane Tokioka. “We maintain an optimistic outlook on the Japanese market, anticipating its continued contribution to tourism as we progress into 2024.”

Despite the dip in November, visitor spending is still up for the year by 6.2% when compared to the same 11 months last year, according to DBEDT. Nearly $19 billion was spent by tourists in 2023, and $17.72 billion was spent at the same time the previous year. The figures adjusted for inflation also improved over the first 11 months of 2019, when visitors spent $15.6 billion.

The tourist count is still recovering from the pandemic. In the first 11 months of 2019, 9.4 million people visited Hawaii, which is 6.9% higher than in 2023, when 8.8 million people came to the island.

Fewer visitors are visiting the fire-stricken Maui, with 161,522 coming to the island in November. Last year, 230,380 tourists went to Maui, a 29% decline.

Gov. Josh Green reopened the island to visitors on Oct. 8 and cleanup from the August disaster is continuing. More than 2,000 buildings were destroyed and 100 people died in the fires.

“The impact of the Maui wildfires continues to be felt in November’s figures, but with most of West Maui now reopened to tourism, there is a concerted effort to reinvigorate job opportunities and facilitate the economic recovery of Maui,” Tokioka said.