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O'ahu - Honolulu - Pearl Harbor: USS Arizona MemorialAs the tropical sunset on the idyllic Pacific islands of Hawai‘i in May 2023, a boost in the local economy was making waves – the State’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) revealed a remarkable rise in visitor spending, defying the typical off-peak travel season. This unexpected but welcomed uptick in revenue came even as the total number of visitor arrivals took a slight dip, highlighting the increased spending power of those choosing Hawai‘i as their holiday destination.

According to the recently released May 2023 visitor statistics report, visitor spending surged to an astonishing $1.69 billion, marking a significant 19% increase compared to the same period in 2019. This comes despite a 5.4% decrease in visitor arrivals, underscoring a fascinating trend where fewer visitors are contributing to higher overall spending – a testament to the allure of Hawai‘i’s rich culture, natural beauty, and unique experiences that entice tourists to invest more in their holidays.

This upward swing in spending, amidst what the industry terms the ‘shoulder period’ – a period nestled between Hawai‘i’s busier winter and summer seasons – is a vital driver of economic stability for the islands. This trend reflects the successful strategies of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), island destination managers, the Global Marketing Team, and industry partners in promoting cross-sector areas. Such sectors include local agriculture and food production, cultural and environmental sustainability, and the creative industries, which have seen significant benefits from this revenue boost.

The HTA’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and community-based Destination Management Action Plans are at the heart of this success.

These essential documents have guided the island’s tourism authorities in their mission to enhance visitor education and destination management, resulting in increased financial outcomes and improved sentiment among Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors.

The Strategic Plan and Action Plans are designed to ensure the sustainable growth of Hawai‘i’s tourism industry while preserving the state’s natural resources and cultural heritage. This multi-pronged approach aims to enrich the visitor experience while nurturing the local community and environment.

The positive sentiment of both locals and visitors indicates a mutual appreciation of these efforts. Hawai‘i’s residents see the direct benefits of increased community visitor spending. In contrast, visitors gain a deeper connection to the islands through their experiences and contributions to the local economy and environment.

This latest report underscores the tremendous success of Hawai‘i’s strategic approach to tourism management in transforming the ‘Aloha State’ into an all-season destination, where even during shoulder periods, the islands thrive economically. It’s a resounding testament to Hawai‘i’s inherent allure and the industry’s strategic foresight in maximizing its appeal.

To learn more about the May 2023 visitor statistics, explore the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s full report at www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/research/monthly-visitor-statistics/. For a closer look at the HTA’s Strategic Plan and the Destination Management Action Plans, delve into the details here.

In conclusion, while Hawai‘i’s mesmerizing sunsets continue to paint the sky, the local economy genuinely lights up – fueled by a successful, sustainable approach to tourism. Hawai‘i’s journey as a leading global tourist destination continues, with the islands welcoming more wealth and cementing its position as a year-round haven for travellers.




Written by: Anne Keam