As domestic travel to Hawaii soars, state turns attention to wooing back international visitors
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Tourism Authority needs to do more to woo Japanese visitors back to the islands — and pivot away from advertising to domestic travelers.
That’s according to the director of the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism.
DBEDT Director James Kunane Tokioka said that Hawaii is continuing to see disappointing international arrivals even as domestic travel to the islands soars. HTA data shows that even without strong international visitor numbers, this year’s spring break surpassed pre-pandemic numbers thanks to domestic travel.
In 2019, around 650,000 domestic visitors came to the islands in March.
In March of this year, that number was near 750,000.
The booming domestic market is filling in where international travel hasn’t returned.
And that data is not lost in the state officials.
“When the restrictions were lifted, we didn’t spend millions of dollars right after that to come, but they (domestic travelers) did,” Tokioka said, adding the figures show it’s not really necessary to advertise to the continental U.S. Instead, the state is working with the HTA to shift advertising dollars toward Asian markets.
“I’ve asked the HTA to start taking a different position with the Japanese market,” said Tokioka.
The demand for domestic travel is also being reflected in ticket prices.
Back in January, a flight from Honolulu to Boston was as low as $260 one-way.
The cheapest flight for that same travel coming up in June is $340, according to Google Flights.
Copyright 2023 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.