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Maui fires impact Hawaii’s tourism numbers

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(The Center Square) – Hawaii’s tourism statistics are down for the third straight month, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

“The effects of the Maui wildfires continued into October, impacting both visitor arrivals and spending for the third consecutive month,” said DBEDT Director James Kunane Tokioka. “As areas in West Maui reopened, Maui tourism showed signs of a slow recovery.”

Gov. Josh Green reopened West Maui to visitors on Oct. 8.

Nearly 133,000 tourists visited Maui in October 2023, down 42.3% from October 2022, when more than 230,000 people vacationed there. The number was 44% lower than October 2019, the final year before the pandemic.

Maui visitors spent $326.2 million in October 2023, down 25.2% from the previous October. The figures are 14.1% less than those from October 2019, according to the DBEDT.

Visitor spending for all the islands is down 2% from October 2022 to October 2023, from $1.54 billion to $1.51 billion in nominal dollars, according to DBEDT. But the numbers are up 13.8% from October 2019.

Overall, the number of travelers to Aloha State is down 3.2% from October 2022. Oahu saw the only double-digit visitor increase, with 14.7% more than last year. Kauai saw no significant change, while the number of tourists visiting Hawaii Island dropped by 6%.

Hawaii experienced a sharp increase in visitors from Japan. More than 442,000 Japanese tourists visited the islands in October 2023, a 236.8% increase from the previous year. The numbers are still significantly lower than in October 2019, when 1.3 million people came to Hawaii from Japan.

“This marks the highest recovery rate since April 2020 for this market,” Tokioka said. “During my recent visit to Japan with Governor Josh Green, it was humbling to see the sympathy expressed by Japanese officials regarding the Maui wildfires. We are optimistic that the Japanese market will lead the tourism recovery in the future months.”