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UHERO Forecast: Visitors Could Reach 6.4M in 2021, 8.8M in 2022

Alana Eagle

As COVID-19 appears to wane, a study from the University of Hawaii analyzed how Hawaii’s economy is doing. The optimistic forecast could bode well for the state's tourism industry. 

A new forecast from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization finds that, for 2021, Hawaii is bouncing back a bit faster than expected but that full recovery is still several years away.

Visitor arrivals reached half their normal levels in April and UHERO projects arrivals will reach 70% of pre-pandemic levels by late summer.

In its baseline forecast, visitation could reach 6.4 million in 2021, then 8.8 million in 2022, and just over 9 million in 2023.

For comparison, Hawaii had a record 2019 with more than 10 million visitors.

Things could go in other directions and the UHERO report includes optimistic and pessimistic forecasts around this baseline.

The optimistic scenario assumes a quicker rebound of the U.S. economy and high vaccination rates, both of which would stimulate travel.

Its pessimistic scenario takes into account the possibility of further Covid surges that hold back international travel and the global economy.

The number of jobs in Hawaii will also take several years to recover. Two factors are holding back recovery in that area, following the steep 15% loss of Hawaii jobs last year.

One is the number of businesses lost through the Covid shutdowns and restrictions. The other is Hawaii’s steady population loss.

UHERO notes that it is difficult to grow jobs in a declining population.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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