Economic

In a positive sign of economic recovery, HTA says visitor spending is up

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Although summer travel slowed down in August, new state report show tourists are spending more during their stay.

A report by DBEDT shows in August, about 830,000 visitors spent $1.71 billion.

In 2019, more than 920,000 only spent $1.5 billion.

Sarah Aoyama owner of Engaging Moments said she has been busy organizing weddings for mostly mainland families all summer.

“I think I’m as busy as I used to be before COVID so I’m happy,” said Aoyama. “Even last-minute bookings are coming in like a month before.”

Hide Sakurai, president and CEO of Sky Waikiki is surprised by the number of guests that have been coming through their doors all summer.

“Well, I was a little bit worried about recession [and] back to school,” said Sakurai. “However, month of August was pretty amazing month for us and I think Waikiki in general, I think we’ve been doing great.”

But as far as Hawaii’s highest spending visitors, the Japanese, UH Professor of Travel Industry Management Jerry Agrusa said even though the country has lifted their strict travel rules, it will take some time until the state sees more of them because of the yen’s current value.

“So, it’s costing the Japanese visitor, you know, a good 15-20% more,” said Agrusa. “But people for two years they’ve been saving up, so I think they’re coming.”

Businesses remain optimistic.

“We have a lot of local support, first and foremost, and we have a lot of mainland tourists,” said Sakurai. “We haven’t seen like Japanese tourists [the] last two years and we saw a lot of Japanese tourists this summer.”

“So many people are traveling from the mainland to have weddings, but it’s not nearly like that from Japan,” said Aoyama. “I think it’s very slow coming back.”

The data suggests Hawaii is on pace to a full recovery by 2025.

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