Visitor Spending in Hawaii Here’s the Data!

Oct 1, 2018 | General Information

Americans take less vacation time than they did in decades past and want to make the most of their vacation days. They are doing a great deal of online travel research. At least half of all visitors to Hawaii use mobile apps to plan and book at least part of their trips. Almost as many (37 percent) use a travel-related mobile app for additional research and booking once they arrive.

In any given month, at least 800,000 visitors are in the islands with more than 200,000 visitors on any given day. More visitors are coming to Hawaii from Europe than from all other countries combined. In most months visitors will spend at least $1.3 billion in the islands. How important is visitor spending on each island? For example, in any month, visitor spending on Oahu surpasses $600 million, on Maui almost $400 million, on the “Big Island” over $160 million, and Kauai about $140 million.

Many of these visitors want different, usual and “off the beaten path” experiences. This is true of both first-time and especially repeat visitors. Although Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) data is not as yet in from 2019, the most recent visitor’s data says that only about a third of visitors to Hawaii are coming for the first time and repeat visitors have been on the upswing. At least three-fourths of these repeat visitors, who have been to the islands at least a half-dozen times, are making their own travel plans.

Putting this data together, Hawaii’s destinations and businesses catering to tourists need to make sure that they offer repeat visitors (many of whom are using mobile apps to research and book their vacations), the most special experiences and attractions in every category, from activities, tours and events to food and culture.

One of the most interesting findings of the HTA was that, for people looking for off-the-beaten path experiences, the name “Big Island” created confusion, especially for first-time visitors. These people confused reference to the “Big Island” with Oahu since many people incorrectly assume that Hawaii’s government hub and biggest airport are on the biggest island. Hence, the “Big Island” more often is referred to as “the Island of Hawaii.”