Hawaii Visitors Spending 40% More, But Enjoying It Less?

Hawaii Visitors Spending 40% More, But Enjoying It Less

Between-the-lines insights into what’s really happening. With Hawaii arrivals down but spending way up.

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86 thoughts on “Hawaii Visitors Spending 40% More, But Enjoying It Less”

  1. Just returned from a wonderful 7 days on Kauai. Have been coming to the islands for longer than most people have been alive (60 years to be exact). Each trip has been a unique delight. The wonderful tropical scenery, the warm ocean waters, the many activities to enjoy, the great restaurants, but above all – the considerate, gracious, and welcoming people. Aloha!

    1. Agree Im from Australia, on our 4 visits to Hawaii and another next May I have found that the hawaiian people are the most welcoming in the world.Believe me I travelled a lot of miles in my 62yrs and Hawaii is a favourite. I’ll share a story that sticks in my mind. In 2019 we flew to Hawaii to do the Pride of America cruise and while in Hilo we met a lovely lady that was part of a hula club that dances for the tourists in the park She was so lovely (I didnt get he name).She saw we had been shopping and walked up to us and asked where we were from and what we had been buying.We showed her our purchased soveneirs etc. She then thanked us for supporting their economy! what a lovely thing to say.We are going back to Hilo hope we see her again

      1. When a traveler or tourist has a great experience and then is appreciated by locals it really does help decide whether to return again. That is part of the Aloha Spirit that flourished throughout Hawaii, in all Honesty it can be found here and there like pockets of resistance against the changing attitudes. Here’s an Honest Question for Hawaiians: if you leave your door open after sending out invitations to visit, do you attack your visitors as if they were uninvited intruders? The Aloha that You have experienced is something Every Tourist should be allowed to Experience, even if only once!

  2. I should correct one error in my post that i missed. My point was the haters on social media post opinions that say more about them rather then the people they are talking about. Their opinions don’t necessarily define reality, it defines how they view life. I didn’t proof read!

    1. Sometimes, while dodging the advertising, it can become a chore to keep your train of thought. It’s easy to make a mistake and not catch it, I have done so a few times. One person alerted me to an absolutely awful mistake, what I had posted made me sound like a Racist. All it took was a couple of words that got mixed up. We do our best and yet sometimes fall short.

  3. Hawaii will continue to draw honeymooners and other first-timers who are willing to spend like there’s no tomorrow. For seasoned Hawaii visitors, though, the writing is on the wall. We don’t visit as often as we used to. Hawaii needs to hire some public relations pros with the following game plan: stop gouging tourists, and start educating locals that the Hawaiian economy runs on tourism. Hawaii has the highest public assistance in the US, so even those Hawaiians who don’t feel “connected” to the tourist industry enjoy significant benefits as a result. It’s time for Hawaii to rediscover the aloha attitude or face financial decline as many tourists discover alternative places to visit (and save a significant amount of money).

    1. Not sure were you get your perception about “locals” and public assistance. Hawaii has a low (4.3% in June) unemployment rate and if you look, other States have a higher one. The people that live here are also the ones staffing the tourist industry and certainly do appreciate their jobs. Your comment would indicate to me more of a political perspective, not reality. Whether you deal in conspiracy theories and lies or want to defund the police, it doesn’t matter, wearing your politics on your sleeve is a good way to hinder the Aloha spirit that exists here in abundance. Plenty others are finding that Aloha spirit as evidenced by their posts elsewhere on here.

    2. You are absolutely correct and despite that some will doubt the veracity of what you have stated. From what I have read the gaps in education may need some negotiating to bring it in line, maybe some fell through the cracks? Deficits need to be addressed and corrected, not allowing them to continue. The healthy and unemployed should be working, making their way through life. Collecting Assistance isn’t a real way of living your best life. Take notice of this person’s words, they’re not meant to harm.

  4. We returned to Honolulu in April this year for two weeks after a 4 year pandemic break. Our 3rd trip and enjoyed every minute.

  5. Waikiki is expensive. Just arrived yesterday. I visit frequently and it doesn’t seem any more crowded. Everyone is friendly and I feel welcome. Aloha.

    1. The “Crowds” and extensive overcrowding that I have heard of so often I have only experienced 1 time and had Nothing to do with Tourism. The crowds were there to watch College Level Soccer and the people were all from the Island. Despite that there were Hawaiians degrading the crowds claiming that they were Tourists. Some just want to cause trouble.

  6. Yes, prices have gone through the roof recently, just as they have everywhere else. However, Hawaii has never been a place that anyone I’ve known would ever have referred to as ‘reasonably priced’. To date myself, Hawaii has always been an e-ticket.

    If you want a reasonably priced vacation head to Mexico. Hawaii, like many destinations, will not fit everyone’s pocketbook.

    1. being a former 3rd generation California, now living in Maui, I totally love the E-ticket reference! Hawaii is an E-ticket for sure!

    2. I do totally agree with what you have said, however, every price increase that is aimed at the Tourists also damages the livelihood of those who live in Hawaii. Hawaii has a fragile economy dependent upon Tourists, there will always be people willing to pay the prices but how many won’t? Does Hawaii want Quantity, Quality or a mix of both? Hawaiians don’t Want Quantity, they’ve made that clear. They would prefer Quality, which they’ve had and enjoyed, although they’ve chased 75% of them away! Rebuilding that dedication and loyalty isn’t done easily or quickly. Hawaiians seem to be Hawaii’s own worst enemy now.

  7. The state of Hawaii is in a state of change and no one really knows where it’s going. I think for that reason people are unsure about pulling the trigger about going to Hawaii, that includes what’s going on in the airlines. A little more clarity would be helpful.

    1. Yes the mainland based airlines are tinkering with their schedules, they always have. It’s a little more noticeable after they adjust for the post pandemic boom of revenge travel. Simple fact is Hawaii is no different to fly to than any other state now. If there is a dip in travel it will be a better time to go as once word gets out it’s less crowded, crowding will return. Just like the stock market, buy when it’s down! 😉

  8. Not true. I’m a Hawaiian. I don’t hate tourists at all (though some ugly tourists treat Hawaii as if it’s their tropical back yard without respect. Welcome to Hawaii. Aloha!

    1. my hubby and I just relocated to Maui from Cali…one of the main reasons is we Love the people here! So genuinely kind, thoughtful and full of Aloha spirit – so very different from California unless they were generational natives (we were both 3rd generation) I am very grateful to live amongst such a great community…

  9. ‘Council For Native Hawaiian Advancement’ says a lot! As a State with-in the United States, we share common values in Freedoms of Faith, Choice, a Common Flag and Language with beliefs in Liberty and Equalty. Tourism was and is a tool, whether Paris, the Riviera, Tokyo, Singapore, the Caribbean, Aspen, it brings $ into the community that is not there, locally. Hawaii for better or worse is 90% dependent on Military and Tourism, how that Revenue is used, is up to the leaders of the State and County’s. If Rates are up almost 40% and Spending is up almost 40%, given that Retail and Dining have not returned to full employment, ditto Hotel Staff, being paid not to work, the diminished experience is a fete accompli!

  10. Aloha Rob and Jeff.
    Many greetings from Ireland…and a morning of torrential rain. Such is our climate! Little wonder I love Hawai’i!!!
    Sorry to hear of all the misgivings surrounding travel to the Islands. Long airport queues seem to be everywhere. Here, too. Let’s hope the rising prices and travel worries ease a little to allow the Islanders and tourists to enjoy paradise once more.
    Mahalo as always and good wishes.

    1. Hi Michael.

      Thanks for checking in and sharing on the final issues of travel. Any chance you’ll be heading this way again soon? Please let us know.


    2. Michael,

      Irish-Italian-American here. One day I’ll get to Ireland. Even though I’ve been to Europe 20-30 times, I have not been to Ireland – I have a reason though. I was waiting for my cousin to wrap up a large lawsuit so we could go together. Well the lawsuit ended, my cousin became very ill, had surgery and died. My health sucks and my wife is saying no to Europe, but next year is a good chance. Counties Cork & Caven, my people.

      I think sites like this bring an inaccurate picture. Not perfect, but Hawaii is good enough for many trips since 1965.


      1. You hit the nail on the head Rod! No where is perfect. Hawaii is great, so is Ireland! Love the Country, love the music and love the people, sorry for your cousins misfortune, I suggest you go have a Guinness in his honor!

  11. Aloha …We visited Hawaii in May 2019 and found it very busy and expensive, but loved it… We are coming back in May 2023 and have found prices for, Hotels, cars,tours and most other things (we have already booked) to be at least 40% more then the last time we visited. With the fluctuating US$ against the AU$ it makes it hard to estimate the cost of this Holiday. But we are looking forward to it and will pay what is required to enjoy our stay. Mahalo

  12. There are some problems with this article.

    First, no marketing is needed and the state should not allocate one dime to any agency in light of our infrastructure shortfalls, lack of healthcare on outer islands, low pay for public servants, etc. The corporations that make profits on tourism should pay for their own marketing.

    Second, locals will not change or “shift on a dime” when travel is down. The mainland corporations that own airline, hotel, and rental car chains falsely represent Hawaii. They pay locals subsistent wages and take the vacation money off island for their shareholders. Do not confuse us with them!

  13. Let me get this right….most people in Hawaii want the tourist dollar and not the tourist…right…with the fees that are charged in Hawaii they should have the best school system, roads, infrastructure, airports and government….news flash we don’t need Hawaii and they do need us.

    1. It is attitudes like this that make you undesirable to those of us that live here. Anyone that thinks of themself as more important than us is definitely not going to feel welcome… and unfortunately ruin it for the tourist that Does have respect for the islands and it’s people.

      1. Right you are Chris but my take is the haters have an outsized voice on blogs and social media and don’t represent the many good people that don’t feel the need to throw stones at everyone and everything. Most of the tourists I encounter seem to be enjoying themselves. They are the reality. Not the handful that feel the need to criticize everything they see. Thousands of people come to Hawaii daily and have a great time, you just don’t hear about them.

  14. I’m just sick yet again about another article of how miserable it is these day to visit the Hawaiian islands. I have been saving for many years! Now most dont think it is a big deal to save for this trip, but for me it has be 8 years. 8 long years and I mean saving. Yet, i am still not ready for my trip even tho I have to save throu 2023 may. Most people have the money now to travel. I do not. Then I read these horrible posts about the travel issues, etc. I read daily how terrible the tsa lines are for return flights home. I read where local hate tourists no matter what our reason for being there. I read, I read, I read, and I weep. Social media has destroyed the world.

    1. SSANDI, social media is most definitely not the real word. There is a real world in Hawaii with a huge array of things to do, people that are warm, nice, sharing and full of Aloha. You can come here and have a great time. Most of social media posters opinions say more about them and who they are posting about. You can fly to Hawaii on Hawaiian or Alaska and have a good travel experience and Hawaii offers a multitude of experiences if you come without the negative baggage social media folks try to put on others. Crime is not rampant here and locals don’t hate tourists.

    2. Don’t let them get you down. We regularly visit Maui and enjoy it every time. The effects of service industry (low) staffing is about the only inconvenience (just be patient, understanding, and tip well those who try hard). We’ve had no issues with anti tourist sentiments. Things aren’t cheap, but it’s a great place.

      1. Aloha Mike, Nice post, your perspective is the healthy one. As a result you and so many others have a great time in Hawaii and “get it”. Like everything in life you can focus on what’s wrong and that’s what you get, or you can focus on what’s good and that’s what you get. Hawaii still has a lot going for it and will get better if the haters stay away and people like you and the many others on here with similar posts keeping returning as they say they will.

    3. So oak media has ruined the excitement to travel to new places. There is so much out ther on YouTube you can basically visit without going. There is no mystery anymore of what you will see when you get there. When I first arrived on Oahu back in 89 from Boston that was the fun of being there. I moved there without a clue of what to expect. That won’t happen today.

    4. Have just returned from a lovely trip to Oahu. The airport renovation is almost complete and the experience there was a pleasant surprise. Rental car return, all the way to boarding went smoothly. We found reasonable places to eat, splurged in yummy meals when we close to do so, bought beautiful veggies and fruit at local farmer’s markets and relaxed on gorgeous beaches all along the North and Leeward shores for free. Certainly a lot of things (like car rentals) are expensive but with some resourcefulness and a sense of adventure, one can enjoy this beautiful island and bring some cash in your pocket back home! Please don’t be discouraged. Also, locals were friendly, generous and repeatedly told us to come back!

    5. SSandi,
      We were in Hawaii in late April visiting both Oahu and Kauai and had a wonderful visit as we have every time we have visited and we have visited many times, different islands each visit. Don’t let social media or negative comments in any outlet keep you from saving for your trip to Hawaii. We have always experienced Aloha on our visits. It’s a place like no other and you will be glad you saved and visited! ☺️

  15. Please stop thinking of hawaii as a “tropical vacation getaway”. When you do that you bring an entire incorrect mindsight with you. Also, if you dont like the cost, go elsewhere and stop complaining.

    1. Hawaii is not a “tropical island getaway”? Care to elaborate on that point a bit?

      Also, as visitors decline, the economy of Hawaii suffers. Hawaii needs visitors and should be listening intently to what its visitors are saying I would submit. Hawaiian government needs to reallocate (considerable) time addressing some of their own problems that are plainly evident on the islands and not bite the main source of income (tourism) that keeps the state going. In the meantime, has the state of Hawaii done anything to actively attract new businesses and/or industry to the islands in order to diversify their economy?

  16. We just returned from a trip in late June early July 2022 and I completely agree with the numbers posted in this article. We traveled from the east coast and definitely spent approx 30 percent more than previous vacations. ( We own a timeshare and travel eoy to Hawaii) Even with the fixed cost of the lodging and reasonable airfare (We booked airfare well in advance )other costs had skyrocketed (food, rental car , activities) One of my favorite things about traveling to Hawaii is the food and we felt the quality and selection had suffered post pandemic and was not worth the cost. ( Example family of four hula grill $375 with tip/ not worth it) We are definitely reconsidering future trips and felt we were price gouged on this trip.

    1. So many people have mentioned Hula Grill on various websites. We dined there this past April and were shocked by the cost for the quality. We will not be going back on our next trip. Many restaurants in that price range that are far better.

      1. Don’t know anything about Hula Girl but what you speak of is the reality of the post pandemic business here. Many businesses adapted and flourished and some didn’t. The survivors will be the well run businesses…. many that failed perhaps weren’t as good as their competitors? If businesses that let greed (gouching their customers, pocketing as much profit as they can as quickly as they can) overcome sound business practices (taking care of their employees and customers) maybe they should fail. Not to sound heartless, there were some businesses that failed through no fault of their own. But what’s left for them is a lot of opportunity now as everything resets going forward.

  17. I am Not hawking anything here (so don’t shoot the messenger) but the main advantage of our timeshare ownership is that it removed the cost of lodging on our recent trip (aside from the TOT). Minimizing (almost to the point of elimination) one of the three major costs of a Hawaii vacation (along with car rental and air fare) might allow us to return in 2023 and visit another island.

    Hopefully car rental will be much more sensible then too.

    If you (the reader) consider timeshare, be sure to buy Resale from a reputable party.

    Disclaimer: I am not in the timeshare selling business – I only make this point to illustrate one advantage and openly confirm there are some disadvantages.

    1. FYI: Consider looking into TUG – Tmeshsre Users Group – if even remotely interested in timeshare ownership. Educate yourself 1st. Our Timeshare ownership has made Hawaii vacations feasible. Do not EVER buy from a developer or during a TShare presentation. Often you can get one for free or nearly free. Sadly. They are lousy investment unless you
      actually use it.

      1. why oh why would you advertise TUG. Social media is destroying this world and one more refrral no matter how good they are is just what we do not needto ge tword around. TUG is doing greatly without your advertising. I am so sick of social media. It is the death of this world as we use to know it.

    2. Warren,

      We’ve had a timeshare on Waikiki for over 20 years and I don’t know what you mean about no cost of lodging. Our annual maintenance fee is about $200/night. That plus the amortized cost of the original investment (we bought our 2 weeks at big discounts – so, yes, over 20 years that part is cheap. But not those maintenance fees).

      See you in September.

  18. I thank you for all your information. I feel that Hawaii has made traveling overly complex. We still made our trip out 2-3 times a year even with covid. Jumped through the many hoops etc. So many comments from residents and travelers along with inconsistencies in communication from the state – just makes vacationing over complicated. We adore Maui, the Ohana experience, the pure beauty it truly embraces and we treated it with respect like our home. We came close for a 2nd time to move to the islands permanently. We decided on another tropical climate state. Leadership makes a difference. We will be back one day. Prayers and aloha 🌺

  19. Back in the 80s, the Army issued us little red or purple hibiscus stickers so we could get “kama’aina rates” locally, instead of what local everything charged the tourists.

    Has the practice of two-tier pricing gone away since then that they are looking at imposing tourist specific fees instead?

    1. Kama’aina pricing is typically only available at locally-owned establishments, in my experience. It is mostly offered at restaurants, and there are fewer that offer it than there used to be. There’s only one place I frequent that still offers it. It’s probably more common in Kahului and Wailuku than it is here in West Maui, and probably a lot more in Honolulu. There’s no mandate or rule, and it doesn’t apply at Target or McDonald’s or the grocery store, so while it is nice, it isn’t like there’s a secret economy we keep to ourselves.

  20. With hotels and car rentals up over 50% from previous trips we are looking at other places for tropical vacations. Air fare is covered with frequent miles, and package deals are still high.


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