Hawai‘i’s visitor industry continues to be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, visitor arrivals dropped 75.2 percent compared to a year ago,according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Tourism Research Division.
This past December, a total of 235,793 visitors traveled to Hawai‘i by air service, compared to 952,441 visitors who came by air service and cruise ships in December 2019. Most of the visitors were from the U.S. West (151,988, -63.7%) and U.S. East (71,537, -66.8%). In addition, 3,833 came from Canada (-94.0%) and 1,889 visitors came from Japan (-98.6%). There were 6,547 visitors from All Other International Markets (-93.8%). Many of these visitors were from Guam, and a small number of visitors were from Other Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, Philippines and Pacific Islands. Total visitor days1 declined 66.9 percent compared to December 2019.
Beginning October 15, passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling inter-county could bypass the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner through the state’s Safe Travels program. Effective November 24, all trans-Pacific travelers participating in the pre-travel testing program were required to have a negative test result before their departure to Hawai‘i, and test results would no longer be accepted once a traveler arrived in Hawai‘i. On December 2, Kaua‘i County temporarily suspended its participation in the state’s Safe Travels program, making it mandatory for all travelers to Kaua‘i to quarantine upon arrival. On December 10, the mandatory quarantine was reduced from 14 to 10 days in accordance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines. The counties of Hawai‘i, Maui, and Kalawao (Moloka‘i) also had a partial quarantine in place in December. In addition, the CDC continued to enforce the “No Sail Order” on all cruise ships.
Spending statistics for December 2020 were all from U.S. visitors. Data for visitors from other markets were not available. U.S. West visitors spent $280.4 million (-59.8%) in December, and their average daily spending was $157 per person (-12.8%). U.S. East visitors spent $170.4 million (-65.1%) and $182 per person (-16.5%) on an average daily basis.
A total of 599,440 trans-Pacific air seats serviced the Hawaiian Islands in December, a decrease of 52.2 percent from a year ago. There were no scheduled seats from Oceania, and significantly fewer scheduled seats from Other Asia (-97.9%), Japan (-93.2%), Canada (-78.3%), U.S. East (-47.7%), U.S. West (-36.4%), and Other countries (-55.4%) compared to a year ago.Annual 2020 Statistics Flight cancellations to the Hawaiian Islands began in February 2020, initially affecting the China market. On March 14, the CDC began enforcing the No Sail Order on cruise ships. On March 17, Hawai‘i Governor David Ige asked upcoming visitors to postpone their trips for at least the next 30 days. The counties also began issuing stay-at-home orders. Effective March 26, all passengers arriving from out-of-state were required to abide by a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Exemptions included travel for essential reasons like work or health care. By the end of March the majority of flights to Hawai‘i were cancelled, and the visitor industry was severely impacted. On April 1, the mandatory self-quarantine was extended to inter-island travel and the state’s four counties enforced strict stay-at-home orders and curfews that month. Nearly all trans-Pacific flights to Hawai‘i were cancelled in April.
For all of 2020, total visitor arrivals declined 73.8 percent from the previous year to 2,716,195visitors. There were significantly fewer arrivals by air service (-73.8% to 2,686,403). Arrivals by cruise ships (-79.2% to 29,792) also decreased considerably, as cruise ships were operating only for the first few months of the year. Total visitor days fell 68.2 percent.
In 2020, visitor arrivals by air service decreased sharply from U.S. West (-71.6% to 1,306,388), U.S. East (-70.3% to 676,061), Japan (-81.1% to 297,243), Canada (-70.2% to 161,201) and All Other International Markets (-80.4% to 245,510). Other Highlights:
•U.S. West: In December 2020, 118,332 visitors arrived from the Pacific region compared to 336,689 visitors a year ago, and 33,563 visitors came from the Mountain region compared to 77,819 a year ago. For all of 2020, visitor arrivals decreased considerably from both the Pacific (-72.6% to 999,075) and Mountain (-67.3% to 286,731) regions versus 2019.
California residents returning from out-of-state in December were recommended to quarantine for 14 days. San Francisco also ordered a mandatory, 10-day quarantine for travelers arriving from outside the nine-county Bay Area region. For Oregon, residents returning from other states or countries for non-essential travel were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. The quarantine period could be shortened if they did not have any symptoms after 10 days, or after seven days if they had a negative test within 48 hours before ending quarantine. In Washington, a 14-day quarantine was recommended for returning residents, and residents were asked to stay close to home.
•U.S. East: Of the 71,537 U.S. East visitors in December, the majority were from the South Atlantic (-65.9% to 16,194), West South Central (-56.9% to 15,285) and East North Central (-68.5% to 14,698) regions. For all of 2020, visitor arrivals declined significantly from all regions. The three largest regions, East North Central (-67.9% to 138,999), South Atlantic (-73.3% to 133,564) and West South Central (72.2% to 114,145) saw sharp decreases compared to 2019.
In New York, returning residents in December were allowed to “test out” of the mandatory 10-day quarantine. Returning residents were required to obtain a COVID-19 test within three days of departure and also quarantine for three days. On the fourth day of their quarantine, the traveler had to obtain another COVID-19 test. If both tests came back negative, the traveler could exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.
•Japan: In December, 1,889 visitors arrived from Japan compared to 136,635 visitors a year ago.Of the 1,889 visitors, 1,799 arrived on international flights from Japan and 90 came on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals dropped 81.1 percent to 297,243 visitors. Japanese nationals returning from abroad were required to quarantine for 14 days. The growing global spread of COVID-19 led to increased travel restrictions effective December 28 through January 2021. During this time, Japan residents with VISA-arranged short-term, outbound business trips wereno longer exempt from the 14-day quarantine.
•Canada:In December, 3,833 visitors arrived from Canada compared to 64,182 visitors a year ago. Direct flights from Canada resumed in December and brought 2,964 visitors. The remaining 869 visitors arrived on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals were down 70.2 percent to 161,201 visitors. Travelers returning to Canada were required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Highlights from All Other International Markets:
•Australia:There were 57 visitors who traveled to Hawai‘i in December compared to 23,206visitors a year ago. There were no direct flights from Australia, therefore all 57 visitors came on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals decreased 82.5 percent to 50,286 visitors. The Australian government continued to impose a ban on all overseas travel for Australians, unless an exemption was granted. Residents returning to Australia were required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
•New Zealand: There were 63 visitors in December versus 5,577 visitors a year ago. There wereno direct flights from New Zealand. These 63 visitors arrived on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals dropped 85.5 percent to 10,940 visitors. The New Zealand government advised New Zealanders to refrain from travel overseas due to COVID-19 health risks and travel restrictions. Residents returning to New Zealand were required to complete at least 14 days of quarantine and test negative for COVID-19 before entering the community.
•China: There were 388 visitors in December compared to 6,980 visitors a year ago. There were no direct flights from China. These 388 visitors arrived on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals declined 88.3 percent to 10,736 visitors. Returning Chinese nationals were required to have a negative COVID-19 result performed by an approved provider, issued no more than 72 hours before departure, and were mandated to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
•Korea: There were 219 visitors in December versus 22,833 visitors a year ago. Of the 219visitors, 125 arrived on domestic flights and 94 arrived on an international flight from a major carrier which flies both domestic and international routes. For all of 2020, arrivals fell 81.6percent to 42,179 visitors. All incoming travelers including returning Korean nationals were subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs extended the special advisory recommending against overseas travel until February 15, 2021.
•Taiwan: There were 25 visitors in December compared to 1,434 visitors a year ago. There were no direct flights from Taiwan. These 25 visitors came on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals decreased 85.4 percent to 3,537 visitors. Returning Taiwanese residents were required to quarantine for 14 days.
•Europe: There were 411 visitors from Europe (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland) in December versus 10,252 visitors a year ago. These 411 visitors arrived on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals were down 84.3 percent to 21,609 visitors. Germany was in lockdown in December as all non-essential services including schools were closed. Returning German nationals had to undergo a 10-day quarantine, which could be reduced to five days with a negative COVID-19 test result. Everyone was required to be tested 48 hours prior to entry or immediately thereafter. In the United Kingdom, growing concerns about a new variant of COVID-19 resulted in tougher restrictions including the closure of all non-essential businesses, and the urgent advice to stay at home and not travel unless it was absolutely essential. Returning residents to the U.K. were required to quarantine for 14 days.
•Latin America:There were 488 visitors from Latin America (Mexico, Brazil and Argentina) in December compared to 2,588 visitors a year ago. These 488 visitors came on domestic flights. For all of 2020, arrivals dropped 75.5 percent to 6,198 visitors. In Argentina, all incoming travelers including returning residents were required to submit a valid negative PCR test completed up to 72 hours before travel or were subject to the quarantine. In Mexico, the U.S. and Mexican border restrictions were extended until February 24, 2021. The restrictions applied to non-essential crossings but not commerce. There were no quarantine restrictions for returning Mexican nationals.
•O‘ahu: In December, visitor spending2 on O‘ahu was $156.5 million (-79.9%). Total visitor days decreased 68.6 percent from a year ago. There were 112,856 visitors on O‘ahu compared to 558,346 visitors in December 2019. For all of 2020, visitor arrivals dropped 75.4 percent to 1,515,013 visitors.
•Maui: In December, visitor spending2 on Maui was $185.9 million (-63.8%). Total visitor days declined 58.0 percent from December 2019. There were 90,605 visitors on Maui in December versus 275,419 visitors a year ago. For all of 2020, arrivals decreased 74.1 percent to 791,660visitors.
•Kaua‘i: In December, visitor spending2 on Kaua‘i was $10.4 million (-94.1%). Total visitor days were down 92.3 percent compared to December 2019. There were 3,759 visitors on Kaua‘i in December compared to 124,356 visitors a year ago. For all of 2020, visitor arrivals dropped 75.8percent to 330,954 visitors.
•Hawai‘i Island: In December, visitor spending2 on Hawai‘i Island was $98.0 million (-62.7%). Total visitor days decreased 58.4 percent from December 2019. There were 48,134 visitors on Hawai‘i Island in December compared to 177,912 visitors a year ago. For all of 2020, arrivals fell 72.1 percent to 492,325 visitors.
Air Seats to Hawai‘i:
In December, total trans-Pacific air capacity declined 52.2 percent to 599,440 seats, with 595,932 scheduled air seats (-52.0%) and 3,508 charter seats (-71.6%). Service to Hilo was suspended at the end of March 2020, and there were fewer air seats serving Honolulu (-56.7% to 329,931), Kahului (-36.5% to 176,709), Kona (-32.3% to 78,053)and Līhu‘e (-84.0% to 14,747) compared to a year ago.
•Scheduled air capacity from U.S. West decreased 36.4 percent in December to 496,449 seats. Service from Anchorage (-41.3% to 7,413 seats), Denver (-38.7% to 23,166), Las Vegas (-57.2% to 10,564), Long Beach (-48.4% to 3,024), Los Angeles (-46.1% to 127,049), Oakland (-29% to 39,307), Phoenix (-15.3% to 28,609), Portland (-56.6% to 16,881), Sacramento (-18.1% to 19,936), Salt Lake City (-20.9% to 9,040), San Diego (-13.2% to 27,466), San Francisco (-47.6% to 69,487), and Seattle (-26.7% to 70,647) was significantly reduced compared to a year ago. For December 2020, spending statistics on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawai‘i Island were only for U.S. visitors. Data for visitors from other markets were not available.
•Scheduled air capacity from U.S. East declined 47.7 percent in December to 61,311 seats. Flights from Detroit and Washington, D.C. were suspended. Service from Atlanta (-61.4% to 3,164 seats), Boston (-82.6% to 1,112), Chicago (-36.8% to 17,237), Dallas (-23.8% to 28,218), Houston (-60.2% to 4,494), Minneapolis (-22.9% to 2,486), New York (JFK) (-86.9% to 1,390), and Newark (-56.9% to 3,210) was substantially decreased compared to December 2019.
•Scheduled air capacity from Japan dropped 93.2 percent in December to 11,786 seats. Nearly all flights were postponed except for limited service from Osaka (-96% to 1,390 seats), Tokyo-Haneda (-83.4% to 4,126) and Tokyo-Narita (-93.2% to 6,270).
•Scheduled seats from Canada were down 78.3 percent in December to 13,032 seats. Flights from Toronto were suspended. There was limited service from Vancouver (-86.5% to 6,808 seats) and reduced service from Calgary (-9.9% to 6,224).
•There were no scheduled air seats from Oceania in December, compared to 40,255 seats a year ago.
•From the Other Asia markets, there was only limited service from Seoul, Korea (-97.2% to 834 seats) in December, compared to 40,330 in combined seats from Seoul (29,692), Shanghai (7,884) and Taipei (2,754) a year ago.
•Scheduled seats from Other markets (Apia, Christmas Island, Guam, Majuro, Manila, Pago Pago and Papeete) decreased 55.4 percent to 12,520 seats in December. Direct flights to Hawai‘i from most routes were cancelled except for Guam-Honolulu with 11,284 seats, which was unchanged from December 2019. Service from Manila-Honolulu was limited compared to a year ago (-81.8% to 1,236).
•For all of 2020, total air capacity statewide decreased 61.8 percent to 4,719,227 seats, as a result of cutbacks in air service to Honolulu (-60.3% to 3,040,191 seats), Kahului (-64.6% to 925,457 seats), Kona (-61.9% to 436,369 seats), Līhu‘e (-66.0% to 308,246 seats) and Hilo (-79.4% to 8,964 seats).
Cruise Ship Visitors:
•In December 2020, sails on the Hawai‘i home-ported cruise ship were suspended and out-of-state cruise ships were not permitted into the islands due to the CDC’s “No Sail Order.” During December 2019, 9,588 visitors came by air to board the Hawai‘i home-ported cruise ship and 11,313 visitors came to the islands on six out-of-state cruise ships.
•For all of 2020, 20 out-of-state cruise ships brought 29,792 to Hawai‘i compared to 68 cruise ships that carried 143,508 visitors in 2019. Total cruise visitors (arrivals by cruise ships and by air to board cruise ships) dropped 80.7 percent to 52,705 visitors.