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More than 750,000 visitors arrived in Hawaiʻi in December

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Despite the spread of a new COVID variant, the state’s tourism industry continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic. But visitor arrivals and spending are still lower than 2019 levels.

More than 750,000 visitors from domestic and international markets made their way to the islands last month, spending more than $1.66 billion, according to a new report.

About 676,000 visitors from the continental U.S. arrived last month.

But nearly 78,000 travelers from Japan, Canada and other international markets also arrived in the state — the highest number of foreign travelers since March 2020.

While visitor arrivals and spending are higher than December 2020, they are still below 2019 levels.

In a release, Mike McCartney, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said the emergence of the omicron variant likely resulted in a slowdown in visitor arrivals.

He says as long as Hawaiʻi remains a safe destination, he expects arrivals to recover in the second quarter of this year, and anticipates more visitors this year compared to 2021.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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