Hawaii Spring Travel Slump Points To Tough Uphill Battle

Hawaii Spring Travel Slump Points To Tough Uphill Battle

Facing a myriad of uncertainties, Hawaii travel is facing a slow recovery, now expected to take until 2027, which the state believes is a slow but not recessionary situation. The long-troubled Hawaii Tourism Authority is being called back into action to reverse the trend. This comes as the HTA held its spring update yesterday. Will they be able to lasso the 1/3 growth this year compared with the past three years, stop it from going lower? Challenges are ahead to move the numbers up, with reliance on tourism becoming more important than what was desired or expected by the state and its governor.

March starts with visitor arrivals down significantly compared with 2023.

Visitors arriving in Hawaii this month are down about 5% overall, with a growing loss trend. The last three days have been down 7.7%, 6.5% and 10.5%. February visitors were down 5.4% compared with 2023.

Enter the long-troubled Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The agency, which has faced controversy for years, including a legislature that has attempted to eliminate it, is setting forth innovative initiatives to reignite lackluster visitor interest in Hawaii, showcasing what they believe makes Hawaii alluring. This is challenging for an organization once focused exclusively on marketing Hawaii that has had to pivot quickly to sustainable tourism. It looks to be a time when various Hawaii travel stakeholders will at least try to come together with new marketing and positive messaging to help revitalize the lagging industry.

Can Makaukau Maui program stop the significant drop in tourism there?

This new and evolving campaign seeks to empower Maui residents who want to return to employment in the Hawaii travel sector. HTA said that on Maui, nearly 70% of the county income is derived directly from Hawaii travel. They want to promote local Maui businesses and, in so doing, protect and preserve its heritage and community well-being.

This week’s program launch comes in response to declining Hawaii tourism. Will it be enough to reinvigorate visitor interest in Maui and help residents who want to work in tourism?

On Maui, so far this month as spring gets going, arrivals are down 17.2% compared with 2023, with some days down as much as 23%. There’s clearly more work to be done.

The HTA said the Makaukau program will strengthen and empower organizations that offer regenerative tourism experiences tailored to mindful travelers. Those include volunteerism, cultural festivals, and more.

HTA still calls for regenerative tourism for mindful travelers.

HTA is about community-based tourism development and will invest $7.5M in supporting local nonprofits, cultural events, and other initiatives. It is part of HTA’s commitment to “caring for my beloved home, or Malama Ku`u. HTA provides community-based awards to “enhance, strengthen and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture through genuine experiences for residents and visitors alike.”

HTA has its work cut out for it as it aims to preserve Hawaii’s natural resources and culture while magnifying and improving visitor experience and not alienating both Hawaii travelers and the local community.

Your comments speak loudly that Hawaii killed the golden goose of travel.

Many of you have said these marketing folks haven’t been helpful in their mixed and odd messaging about the visitors they seek to attract. There’s repeated talk about Hawaii’s good old boys, and that’s where HTA fits in. Not only that but the curtailment of Hawaii vacation rentals is seen by many as a hindrance to the return of robust tourism.

Hawaii vacation costs stop the return of many visitors.

So many people have expressed that they have primarily been priced out with exorbitant hotel costs.

Meanwhile, many in Hawaii focus on diversifying away from relying solely on tourism. At the same time, nothing has been proposed that would be able to fit that bill.

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88 thoughts on “Hawaii Spring Travel Slump Points To Tough Uphill Battle”

  1. I have travelled to Hawai’i since I was a little girl in the 70s and have so many good memories. Have mourned some of the changes, but the air and water still feel like a caress, Plumeria still smells as sweet, the Zebra Doves song as calming and the birds/fish/sea turtles as wonderful. I will find cheaper accommodations and other ways to save, but I will never abandon this very special place. The spirit of Hawai’i will live on, whatever we tourists decide.

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  2. We have owned a vacation rental on Maui for over 20 years. The last few years, property taxes have gone completely out of control ($16,000 for a 900 sq ft, 2br condo!) as well as added state & local TAT’s. The legislature is going exactly the wrong way on giving the counties More authority. This is the shotgun that has blown away the golden goose. These costs are passed on to our customers. Many that come back every couple of years are going elsewhere. If the state doesn’t get these taxes reversed and tightly regulate the countries, it will be the end. Our (fixed) break-even cost has ballooned. Electricity and land-line phone (required by most AOA’s) costs have also gone through the roof.

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  3. You elected this governor so you deserve what you get. Most residents want to save all the good stuff for themselves… don’t want to share paradise with outsiders. But since the outsiders are the ones supporting the economy, good leaders would ignore the selfish bitchers. This governor apparently is too ignorant to understand basic economics. Typical for government “service”. What a joke.

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    1. Absolutely correct. They openly want the Covid shutdown back permanently and when there’s no $ for roads, fire and police protection and electricity, they will demand The state provide it.

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    2. A joke indeed. pandering for local votes while in the pocket of the hotel industry that keeps building.

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  4. While the state wants more visitors, it is making it more expensive to visit! TAT was 7.25% a few years ago, now it’s 10.25%, plus the 3.0% OTAT. Now, the state wants to add a $25 visitors fee. That will be pushed up every year. Hotel and restaurant costs, driven by union wage costs, and the unholy alliance between Hawaii’s one party rule and the unions will continue to adversely impact tourism.

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  5. This is a product of really poor messaging and making things as difficult as possible for travelers. Don’t come now, ok come now, ok don’t come now. You can only come if you participate in such and such initiative. Btw, we’re taking away the most affordable places to stay and removing competition so the remaining places are even more expensive. Oh, and we hate you. But please come. No wonder travelers are going elsewhere.

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    1. Messaging is very important and whenever it is the opposite of the “Spirit of Aloha”, it becomes very negative. But in today’s economy, Value for Money is what’s driving people away. Current state and country officials need to reform or be fired.

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  6. As a former resident, I see hotels rates are very high and is a problem for planning a vacation to return for a visit.

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  7. We have a time share on Maui but have started searching out new vacation options. Everything from airfare, meals and activities have all risen way out of proportion to other vacation venues.

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