Hawaii saw more than 10M visitors last year, but not everyone is celebrating

Hawaii saw more than 10M visitors last year, but not everyone is celebrating
Hawaii saw more than 10 million visitors last year.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in 2019, Hawaii saw more than 10 million visitors to its shores ― a widely-expected milestone that’s drawn concerns about over-tourism.

Figures released this week put the total number of visitors to Hawaii last year at 10,424,995. That’s up more than 5% from the year before.

On any given day in 2019, there were nearly 250,000 visitors in Hawaii on average.

[Read more: A top CEO’s prescription for Hawaii’s tourism-driven economy: It’s time to diversify]

Hawaii’s visitor arrivals have been soaring for years amid a stronger national and global economy. The Hawaii Tourism Authority said that visitors to the islands spent $17.8 billion last year, up 1% from 2018.

Oahu saw visitor spending grow nearly 3% to $8 billion along with a 5% increase in visitors ― to 6.2 million. Maui and the Big Island also saw visitor arrivals grow, while Kauai saw a small decline.

As the number of visitors have soared in recent years, more lawmakers and residents have expressed concerns about their impact on public infrastructure, the cost of living ― and the quality of life.

Councilwoman Kymberly Pine has been among those calling for more study on how the state is shouldering the increase in visitors.

“We’re getting to a point that if we don’t as a city get involved in managing our tourism better then the residents are going to start turning against our no. 1 economy," she said in October.

But tourism officials point out that the increase in visitors have filled government coffers with tax revenues. HTA said that spending by visitors last year generated $2 billion in state tax revenue alone.

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