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Visitor Numbers Double in One Month But Remain Well Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

AP Photo/Caleb Jones

The latest visitor arrival figures show a major increase in November, but the number of tourists in Hawaii remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

  183,779 people visited Hawaii in November according to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

That represents more than double the number who came in October and almost ten times the number of visitors in September. The state launched its pre-travel COIVD-19 testing program in the middle of October, offering travelers a way to skip an otherwise mandatory quarantine.  

However, the November arrivals represent only 22%  of the total number of visitors in November of 2019.

Currently, the vast majority of travelers are Americans coming from the mainland United States.

The November HTA data show that visitors from international markets like Canada and Japan were at only 1 or 2% of the total from the same time in 2019..

Japanese tourists in particular are an important source of revenue for Hawaii businesses and represent the second largest market in terms of visitor arrivals, after the United States.

John DeFreitas with Honolulu based-Panda Travel told HPR that the Japanese government requires returning travelers to quarantine at home, which has deterred many from leaving at all.

“Unless you’re here on business or government work or a student, because at least in that one direction, you’ve got to extend your time off by 14 days,” DeFreitas noted.

 Those numbers are likely to drop even further.

In response to a new, more contagious strand of coronavirus identified in the United Kingdom, the Japanese government recently rescinded a quarantine exemption for returning businesses travelers and banned most foreigners from entering Japan.

Domestic arrivals from the U.S. continue to trend gradually upward and received a boost in the week before Christmas.

That is good news for state government, which is currently facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.

In 2019, visitor spending generated more than 2 billion dollars in state tax revenue, which represents one-quarter of all taxes collected by the state in its 2019 fiscal year.

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