Visitor Numbers Approaching Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2022—And a Major Market is Nearing its Return

  • Karen E. Bail
  • 05/27/22

There’s no doubt about it: the past few years were rough on the travel industry, both on the Big Island and across the state.

With necessary restrictions in place to protect our kama’aina, visitor numbers plummeted through the early-goings of 2020 and into 2021, as several programs were instituted to ensure our hospitals were not overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic.

“The mask mandate and Safe Travels program played a key role in keeping Hawaii’s residents safe before vaccinations were widely available, and during the surges we’ve seen through this pandemic,” Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO John De Fries said earlier this month.

However, with the Safe Travels program and indoor mask mandate a thing of the past, domestic travelers to the State of Hawai’i no longer face the barriers that helped to keep arrival numbers down these past few years—and plenty of folks have taken advantage of their newfound freedom to travel to the Aloha State as of late!

According to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, March arrivals from the United States mainland were ahead of the 2019 pace every day save March 8th. Accordingly, the Big Island is currently returning many daily passenger counts into Kailua and Hilo that rival—if not exceed—2019’s pre-pandemic totals.

“We really haven’t seen a drop at all. In fact, we had some of our best numbers this past weekend, almost rivaling what we got in 2019,” said Mufi Hannemann, the President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, regarding the state’s overall incoming passengers the week of April 14th.

And that’s not all—as of last month, travel from 18 prefectures of Japan will soon be relaunching! Japanese travel agencies will reactivate many of its largest travel agencies, clearing the way for Hawai’i to once again welcome visitors from the East.

According to Japanese officials, plans are in the works to resume more flights to Kailua before the end of 2022—in addition to rumors that a third airline operator may be jumping into the fray to offer services into the Big Island of Hawai’i. Japan’s ongoing Covid-based restrictions have thus far delayed the return of a lucrative section of the traveling market—nearly 1.6 million visitors came to the state from Japan in 2019, which represented around 12% of total visitor spending that calendar year.

It's a good time to be considering those long-delayed travel plans—and it's an even better time to be a resident on the Big Island of Hawai’i! If you’ve always dreamed of calling paradise home, or perhaps were wondering what it looks like to get into the short-term rental game, then give us a call and let’s get started on turning all those island fantasies into a reality today.

PS: If you’re planning on visiting the Big Island, be sure and check out our blog on how to be a conscientious visitor! It takes aloha to get aloha, and respecting the ‘aina and the culture is an absolute must if you’re looking to enjoy your time in the Aloha State 🤙🌴

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Karen provides the most current and accurate market information, tapping into her vast network of industry professionals. She continually draws from her extensive marketing experience to offer creative marketing strategies and produce impeccably high-quality marketing materials.

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