Tourism experts: Wooing international travelers back is key to Hawaii’s recovery

Hawaii is taking baby steps toward welcoming international travelers back, but recovery will take time.
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 5:31 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 2, 2021 at 5:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Economic experts project Hawaii’s efforts to welcome back international visitors will have an enormous impact on the state’s financial recovery.

But arrivals won’t soar overnight.

University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization Executive Director Carl Bonham said that in 2019, international travelers accounted for roughly a third of $17 billion in tourism revenue.

That income has evaporated over the last year and a half.

While the state’s full pandemic recovery will still take years, reopening Hawaii to foreign travelers is a major boost, especially considering they tend to spend more throughout their stay.

“We really need those international visitors not only to fill that puka, but also because they’re higher spending and that’s really what matters right?” Bonham said. “The visitors come here and they spend money and they spend it across a variety of different kinds of activities.”

Although Japan is not expected to end its two-week quarantine for returning residents, next month’s Honolulu Marathon is still expecting thousands of Japanese runners willing to accept the quarantine in return for the opportunity.

The marathon typically generates $130 million in visitor spending each year.

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