Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022, was truly a historic day here on the Big Island of Hawai’i: for the first time since early 2020, a flight from Japan touched down, harkening the return of international travel and an end to more of the pandemic-era restrictions!
177 eager passengers landed in Kona earlier this week and were welcomed back to Hawai’i by an impressive crowd that included many local business owners and professionals (and, of course, hula dancers!).
“It’s just the beginning,” Governor Ige said during the ceremony at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole (and as reported by Big Island Now). “And another step forward in the economic recovery post-pandemic.”
Recovery, indeed! As also reported by Big Island Now per the statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism—DBEDT—the Aloha State’s overall tourism numbers have certainly bounced back in a big way from the 2020 drop-off, even without the benefits of international tourism:
- Visitors coming to the islands totaled over 842,000 in the month of June—an 89% recovery from the numbers back in June of 2019
- Visitors also spent $1.83 billion back in June, an increase of over 12% over what was spent in June 2019
“We are seeing positive movement going into the second half of the year with the return of visitors from outside of the U.S.,” according to DBEDT Director Mike McCartney. “International travelers saw a 31.2% recovery during the first half of 2022 with arriving visitors from Japan at the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Specific to the Big Island, 157,443 visitors arrived in June, a drop of only -3.7% from June 2019. However, visitor spending grew by over 20% locally by way of comparison, with said visitors spending $247.2 million in June (as compared to $205.8 million in June 2019).
Furthermore, now that tourists from Japan are returning, the ongoing economic recovery is expected to ramp up even further. Through the first six months of this year, there were only 34,925 visitors from Japan to our state, far behind the 734,235 that came in the first half of 2019, before the pandemic began.
And while correlation doesn’t imply causation, it’s also reasonable to expect the uptick in visitors and visitor spending to have a prodigious effect on the Big Island’s housing market as well. We’ve continued to see many impressive numbers continue coming in over the first six months of the year, even as the total number of units sold ramped back down. We’re still bullish on Hawai’i’s housing market to stay hot for the rest of this year—so if you’re looking to get in on the action, give Karen Bail and co. a call on the double to get started on making your next investment in Big Island real estate today!