Decline In Hawaii Tourism Starts According To State

Decline In Hawaii Tourism Starts According To State

The signs have been on the wall for some time. The state has openly wanted it, and the islands concur; Hawaii needs less tourism to attain balance and sustainability. And the universe is responding to that request, which in the end, may not be exactly what Hawaii wanted after all. Time will tell.

Hawaii has been blessed with return visitors, more so than most destinations. In fact, during the first three months of 2022, it’s estimated that 75% of all visitors were returning rather than new. But that will change, and Hawaii will find itself in a highly competitive environment, unlike any time before. We discussed it well before the latest report came out: Why Hawaii’s Repeat Visitors Aren’t Returning – Does Anyone Care?

It is being reported now that this trend is already leading to fewer bookings, which in turn could also have side benefits for future visitors. The no-price-is-too-high plan for Hawaii accommodations, for example, looks like it is on the precipice of collapse. Much more reasonable rates may be returning.

BOH: We expect Hawaii accommodation prices to drop approximately 25% between now and this fall.

The state’s latest Visitor Satisfaction Survey was just released.

Data collected was from nearly 4,000 visitors between January and April 2022. Here are the takeaways and what we can expect going forward. You can also read the report below.

1. Hawaii visitors remain satisfied overall with their experience. In fact, about 90% both rated their Hawaii vacations as excellent and will recommend a Hawaii vacation to others. About half said that their trip exceeded their expectations. But, nonetheless, they’ll be returning in fewer numbers.

2. Cost is the number one reason Hawaii visitors won’t be coming back, as costs rose about 16% between 2021 and 2022. And we think that’s lower than reality. Adding to the dilemma are increased accommodations taxes (which are up 3% compared with last year), and ridiculously high car rental charges, too. Also, by way of annoyance, parking at Hawaii hotels has gone to as much as $65 per night, which we’ve never seen previously. Hawaii has had the most significant increase in cost compared with other worldwide visitor destinations. That’s followed by the perception of a lack of value, overcrowding, and other factors.

3. Post pandemic shutdown, visitors are more desirous than ever to visit new places. Combine that with the lack of an economic paradigm here in Hawaii, and a Europe, Asia, Caribbean, Mexico, or Australia vacation looks pretty good to many. While Hawaii vacations looked like a safe and sane bet a few months ago, international travel is on a rapid rebound pace. In fact, while Hawaii travel begins to wane, Europe is about to exceed all prior visitor numbers.

4. West Coast visitor return intentions dropped by 4.1% to 82.2% compared with visitors surveyed last year. In this annual study, this was the lowest return intention since 2016. East coast visitors are even less likely to return,  -6.6% to 66.6%.

Do you concur with the survey results? We look forward to your input.


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234 thoughts on “Decline In Hawaii Tourism Starts According To State”

  1. Costs isn’t a factor. Distance and travel time make it undesirable along with unfriendly locals and traffic. The hotels, crowded beaches and dining options makes it feel like your in Disneyland not a tropical paradise

    1. I disagree, Kirk,

      All the visitors I have met here say it was the hotels and politics that turned them off. I agree if you mean that Hilton and others have turned what was once beautiful Hawaiian luaus into “Disney looking shows” that are barely authentic. Or hotel lobbying success in Hawaiian politics that has short term vacation condo rentals mostly outlawed so that they are stuck going to overpriced hotels, then yes, I agree. Most locals I know are kind to visitors, unless the visitors are unkind to them.

  2. Why would anyone pay money to go somewhere they’re not wanted? Tourism killed Hawaii, & I’m not going to be blamed for that. There are plenty of nicer places where the inhabitants actually want visitors and their presence is tolerable to the people who live there.

  3. I am always amazed at those who come to this site to trash Hawaii for needing to strike a balance. There are many ways to have a reasonably inexpensive vacation in Hawaii. Yeah if you want front row beach your going to pay a premium.
    Anyway stop complaining don’t like it don’t come to Hawaii
    And to those who’ve stated they didn’t feel safe. Where in the world were you hanging out?

  4. Did anyone else notice that even Joe Biden mentioned exorbitant “resort fees” and extra charges hitting travelers on vacation? Anyone who advertises “no resort fees” and “free parking included” gets our business instantly. I don’t care if the price is a little bit higher, just don’t advertise an artificially lower rate!

    1. That’s why I usually statuary the kahala or halekulani. Yes it’s more than say the Hilton but not much more when you add in the $65 parking and $55 resort fee the Hilton charges per day.

  5. One thing the article really doesn’t focus on is the effects of the recession when added to the out of control post pandemic price increases, increased taxes and the “we don’t want tourists” sentiment that seems to be spreading. Most people plan way in advance when coming to Hawaii because it can be difficult to secure lodging at times. Those people continued to come to Hawaii post pandemic because cancelling would mean losing money, but we are 2 years post pandemic now. People are struggling financially, and luxury vacations are not happening for many people. I think Hawaii is in for a very rough road, much of which was self-induced.

    1. Yes, it was self-induced, but it was definitely by Hawaii’s own design. Hawaii is succeeding in reducing tourism. In fact, the islands would be happy if there wasn’t any tourism at all. Hawaii doesn’t really care what no tourism will do to the tens of thousands of fellow residents that have careers in the tourism industry. Many of the residents want the state to go back to its origins. It’s becoming a well-publicized belief that Hawaii was stolen, and many want things back the way they were, with the lifestyle that existed for centuries before Hawaii was a state. It’s very interesting to watch all of the policies that have been strategically put in place, and to witness the successful results.

      1. Pat G, imagine an oasis with no tourism at all, the melee that Zero Improvement and Upkeep will cause. The Freedom to reduce overpopulation by tossing refuse and sacrificial beings into volcanoes to end the never ending food and water crises. One interesting thing about this takeover would be all of the time share units could become housing.

      2. Pat G, here’s an interesting and accurate assessment of purging all but Native Hawaiians and long time residents from Hawaii. If the Tourism industry were to be banned, every homeowner would need to pick up the State contributions to everything. Each Homeowner would then see an Increase in Property Taxes of At Least $22,000 above what they currently pay to keep things running to a certain point. That alone, with the loss of jobs and Federal Dollars would certainly leave most without their homes. A direct consequence of what you, and others, are proposing. That alone would collapse the Islands Economy and Everything Else. Hawaiians that support this haven’t any idea of what they will bring down upon themselves and others.

        1. Yes, I agree with you, but I don’t think those crusading for this believe that they will be worse off; on the contrary. It’s a different mindset here on the islands. Money is not a primary concern, and there is a lot of anger over perceived injustices. On Maui, two of our most powerful county council members have been driving home these points repeatedly, and they believe all the anti-tourist legislation proposed and bills passed isn’t nearly enough. The anger is palpable, and stronger than any type of financial concern

          It is starting to play out now, as prescribed. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.

          1. It will be interesting to watch – it’s a well-known cognitive bias to think they can just revert back to “the good ol days”.

            It’s like some of the things you see in SFO and Portland – it seems like elected leaders are purposefully trying to bankrupt cities and states.

  6. I absolutely agree with this article. We have in the past visited annually for over 18 years. I feel like it’s my second home. But we have struggled with the idea of returning after skipping last year. I no longer recommend it to my friends. We just didn’t feel safe the last time we were there. There really are so many other places to go that are just as beautiful. I hope Hawaii gets what they want and tourists stay away. Aloha

    1. Dale, the powers that be in Hawaii, including Governor Green, are Dictating new rules for Who should be allowed to vacation in Hawaii. If the word “Budget” is a consideration or even enters your mind then you no longer are a Viable, Desirable, Tourist. The fact that You own physical property, not Timeshares, doesn’t automatically qualify you anymore as you’re probably part of the problem of unaffordable and unavailable housing for residents. Just because someone isn’t considered Upper Income, Wealthy, Rich, “Ripe for the Picking,” they should go elsewhere, everyone should follow Their Decrees. I have spent much more time vacationing elsewhere and saving money for more. Hawaii can survive, thrive, or flounder on their whims!

    2. Dale prior to visiting Hawaii, Oahu specifically, I had heard so much of the Beauty, Splendor, the Aloha. Upon the very first visit Everything was proven true and beyond, we knew that we would be back as often as possible. Even as prices increased we have continued. Do we feel safe? Less each time recently. If it were just myself, I pity Stupidity. Because we go together our last trip is probably in view as are so many others. We have supported the growth and livelihoods of multitudes of common people with our money just to be unwanted, flounder isn’t just a fish. We can spend less on each vacation and go more often, enjoying ourselves.

  7. Not sure I want to visit somewhere I’m hated because of what other people did a hundred and twenty years ago. They appreciate continental Americans in the Caribbeans, it seems, rather than hate them for what other people did like they do in Hawaii.

  8. With less tourism coming from the mainland in coming months and the lack of repeat visitors the dependence on Japan and Asian markets will be needed, but will they? Recession and Inflation has Japan belt tightening and Asia the same, will they loosen their belts to splurge on Hawaii or mostly stay put? No one knew that anything could rival Covid, but will this be the next death knell to Hawaiian Businesses at a time that they were making a comeback, only time will tell. As I have heard it told many times, watch what you ask for you might just get it. Maybe You Shall!

  9. Let Hawaii tourism die, the tourist market’s have been gouging tourist for decades thinking that the fools with their money will keep coming.
    It’s time to spend your traveling dollar elsewhere.

    1. My feelings are truly mixed, we love Hawaii. That being said, the sentiments conveyed by Hawaiians have been received and loom large over any future trips. We have enough memories but had hoped to make more, it may not be Hawaii but some other amazing island where we are wanted, appreciated and more. Maybe an excursion across the Atlantic or Asian Paradise awaits, so much to choose from. Hawaii is a “place” like some others we’ve been to, believe it or not but you’re not so exclusive. We can vacation more often if we leave out Hawaii, money goes much further elsewhere. No one trying to pilfer through fees, taxes and everything else like Hawaii, in that respect you’re not even close to the perfect destination. Maybe some day you’ll grow up!

  10. Hi Pat G, you are partially correct. Council on Oahu, soon to an Island where you live, keep increasing the minimum number of days you are able to rent your property as well as the maximum number of times. Currently they want 90 days minimum rental and can only rent it for 2 90 day periods per year, that will eventually decrease knowing them and their motives. It’s an Abusive Situation effecting only this type of rental. It doesn’t effect Hotels/Motels/Resorts, then again when does it ever? Unfair and very Unjust, time for significant changes in what Edicts Council can effect without Recourse.

  11. Hi Eric, the cost of living is going crazy everywhere and Hawaii is considerably more than anywhere. I can’t imagine living there! Where is all of the money going? Residents are paying sky high taxes, but why? This is what everyone should be demanding to know, recently I’ve seen where Elected Officials have been going to prison for schemes and bribes, it’s time that they all do. No more donating the bribes and staying out of jail and in Office. Accountability 360°, do the crime and Time. Stop electing thieves! Demand Better.

    1. I recall speaking with several Airbnb owners in 2018 when this hit the fan. The “non-Waikiki” condo owners were put out of business almost overnight. Most I know are resident entrepreneurs who worked hard to finance the purchase of one or 2 condos for their small businesses (vacation rentals). They were accused of denying rental access to locals and were declared illegal. When they tried to rent their condos to locals after the change, the rent they had to charge to just break even was more than the market would bear. What a mess!!

  12. Hi Karen S, what will eventually start out as 1 or 2 lawsuits will probably be continued with additional ones. Council has been running roughshod over a certain segment of rentals and not doing so for any others, times will hopefully be changing. Requiring a minimum, and unrealistic, number of days rental agreement and limits on how many times per year are ridiculous and a severe restriction on the owners of rental properties. Hopefully the Court’s can give reasonable relief and Admonish local Government. They are doing nothing to help out residents.

  13. Hi Pat G, very interesting observations that you have made and yet Tourists somehow will be blamed for the Majority of problems. I believe that some Tourists are to blame for contributing to the existing problems without any doubt. The sheer numbers make it easier to see how an occasional problem could easily, and quickly multiply in places. When the problems are homegrown all too often assigning blame to other’s is just subterfuge and Diverting attention, such a shame. Everyone should take responsibility and clean up after themselves. Thank You.

  14. We looked forward to returning to Kauai after 6 years. The biggest shock were the fees being charged by state parks ($10 per vehicle and $5 per person) and the need to reserve a spot at Ke’e Beach just so you can walk along the Na Pali coast. It turns out the reserved spots had been taken within minutes of their being made available! So how are you suppoded to get to enjoy that area?? Besides, the whole reservation system seems ridiculous. It was never needed before the pandemic. So much for welcoming tourists back to Hawaii.

  15. We Love Hawaii. My wife and I fell in love with Kauai on our first visit in 2008. We made it a retirement goal, purchased a small condo in Lihue when the kids moved out and moved here this year. We love it here!

    However the costs associated with a family vacation to Hawaii have gotten to the point that many will go elsewhere.

    A two week cruise can cost less than a vacation in Hawaii, for the near future. Last minute cruise deals include balcony rooms for $100 a day per person with all the taxes, tips and fees. Add on’s for beverages and it’s around $300 a day per couple.

    We were going to island hop this winter, instead we’re headed to New Zealand for the same cost.

    Hawaii tourism stakeholders must beware.


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