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Waikīkī Summer: Beyond the Tourism Numbers

Waikiki beach tourism hotel
Casey Harlow
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Hawaii Public Radio

Along with the rest of Hawaiʻi, Waikīkī has seen domestic tourism bounce back faster than many expected. This summer, Hawaiʻi Public Radio brings you a closer look at all things Waikīkī, but not just the tourism numbers.

Future of Waikīkī Beaches May Rely on $12M Shoreline Stabilization Project by Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi

Waikīkī Beach Improvement and Maintenance Program sand replenishment
Dan Dennison
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Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources

Waikīkī’s iconic beaches may be getting a $12 million facelift as part of the state’s effort to increase the shoreline’s resilience to climate change, coastal erosion, and sea level rise.

After decades of piecemeal solutions, the Waikīkī Beach Improvement and Maintenance Program offers a long-range plan to stabilize the shoreline from Fort DeRussy to Kūhiō Beach.

Future of Waikīkī Beaches May Rely on $12M Shoreline Stabilization Project
HPR Reporter Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi - July 22, 2021

Waikīkī Hotels Getting Back to Normal, But Obstacles Remain by Casey Harlow

The state's tourism has seen the pendulum swing from a record-high 10 million visitors in 2019 to record lows due to strict travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as visitors have returned, here's a look at how hotels are faring.

The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority last week reported hotels in June saw a 77% occupancy rate, which is down 7% from the same time in 2019. Hotels across the state are cashing in to make up for the lower occupancy.

Waikīkī Hotels Getting Back to Normal, But Obstacles Remain
HPR Reporter Casey Harlow - July 26, 2021

A Summer in Wakīkī With No Japanese Tourists by Zoe Dym

The pandemic has slowed the flow of Japanese travelers to Hawaiʻi to a trickle. That’s hit the hospitality industry around the state, but one of the areas seeing the most changes is Waikīkī.

The number of Japanese visitors decreased by nearly 80% last year compared to 2019, according to the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. They have not returned during the recent spring and summer months where the state saw a bigger number of domestic tourists than pre-pandemic times.

A Summer in Wakīkī With No Japanese Tourists
HPR Reporter Zoe Dym - Aug. 2, 2021

Outrigger Waikiki Hotel Tourism Hospitality Front Desk.jpg
Casey Harlow
/
HPR
Front desk clerks at the Outrigger Waikīkī Hotel

Staffing Remains a Big Concern for Waikīkī Hotels and Hospitality Union by Casey Harlow

As hotel occupancy rates continue to rise in the state, there is a staffing shortage in hotels and restaurants. While hotels are working to bring back employees, a local union is concerned they are using this time to cut jobs.

In 2019, more than 10 million visitors came to the state, spending nearly $18 billion. Of that, $7.65 billion was spent on lodging — accounting for nearly 43% of total visitor spending that year.

Staffing Remains a Big Concern for Waikīkī Hotels and Hospitality Union
HPR Reporter Casey Harlow - Aug. 2, 2021

Waikīkī Restaurants Still Face Challenges Despite Crowds of Visitors and Locals by Casey Harlow

The hotel and restaurant industries were the most impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although hotels are recovering due to the return of tourism, eateries are still having a difficult time.

Even in good times, successful restaurants in Hawaiʻi operate on very lean profit margins. This is due to the usual challenges that eateries face — rent, food costs, utilities, and labor.

Waikīkī Restaurants Still Face Challenges Despite Crowds of Visitors and Locals
HPR Reporter Casey Harlow - Aug. 9, 2021

Waikiki Surf and One Legendary Ride by Noe Tanigawa

John Clark Waikiki.jpg
Noe Tanigawa
/
HPR
Surf historian John Clark at Publics in Waikiki

Summertime means surf on the south shores of the Hawaiian Islands. On Oʻahu, that means in Waikiki, where chest-high waves out there now should gradually wane this week.

As part of our continuing series “Waikiki Summer,” HPR’s Noe Tanigawa talked with a local waterman who knows those surf breaks well — along with some of the stories behind them.

Waikiki Surf and One Legendary Ride
HPR Reporter Noe Tanigawa - Aug. 12, 2021

waikiki beach surfboard surfing tourism
Noe Tanigawa
/
HPR

Aloha Friday Conversation: Stories from Waikīkī by Noe Tanigawa

On the Aloha Friday Conversation, HPR's Noe Tanigawa was joined by surf historian John Clark and acclaimed local musician Robert Cazimero for stories about the special magic of Waikīkī.

Aloha Friday Conversation - Aug. 13, 2021

From Waikiki to Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, John De Fries Shares Core Hawaiian Values by Catherine Cruz and HPR News Staff

john_de_fries_headshot_2__full_.jpg
Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority
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John De Fries, the first Native Hawaiian to head the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, fondly remembers growing up on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki surrounded by family and friends.

Because of his upbringing in Waikiki, there were hopes he could bring a sensitivity to the HTA post. The Conversation met with De Fries at the end of a tiny Waikiki street that some years ago he called home. He shared his visions for Hawaiʻi tourism during what may be the industry's most challenging period.

From Waikiki to Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, John De Fries Shares Core Hawaiian Values
HPR's Catherine Cruz - Aug. 16, 2021

Keep checking back for more installments of HPR's Waikīkī Summer series.

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