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Maui’s April visitor arrivals, spending top 2019 numbers

Tourism market has long trailed 2019 pre-pandemic numbers

Arriving passengers pass through the Kahului Airport baggage claim in April. While Maui’s still-recovering tourism industry has long trailed pre-pandemic numbers, arrivals and spending in April exceeded April 2019 totals, according to a recent report. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui surpassed pre-pandemic visitor numbers and spending in April as the state saw the highest recovery rate of visitor spending and arrivals since February 2020, a state official said.

There were 254,398 visitors to Maui in April, which was up 2.6 percent from April 2019, when 247,984 visitors arrived on the Valley Isle, according to preliminary visitor statistics released by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism last week.

Visitors to Maui in April spent $496.7 million, up 24.6 percent from $398.6 million spent in April 2019.

Statewide, there were 818,268 visitors in April, compared to 849,397 in April 2019, down 3.7 percent.

Visitors across the state in April spent $1.6 billion, an increase of 21 percent compared to the $1.32 billion reported for April 2019.

“The month of April brought the highest recovery rate of visitor spending and arrivals since February 2020,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney said, adding that the totals in April were the 12th consecutive month in which visitor arrivals from the continental U.S. surpassed the same month’s level in 2019.

“Daily spending by U.S. visitors increased 24.5 percent, which supported our communities, businesses and state tax revenues,” McCartney said.

Both McCartney and Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries noted the return in Japanese visitors.

“As we move into the summer months, we are anticipating a more robust recovery of our international markets, especially Japan,” De Fries said.

On Maui in April, the average daily census was 67,943 visitors, a 7.4 percent increase compared to the 63,280 visitors in April 2019.

Through the first four months of this year, there were 870,445 visitors to Maui, a 10.7 percent decrease from the 974,943 visitors during the same time frame in 2019.

But through the first four months of this year, visitors spent $1.78 billion, up 3.1 percent from the $1.73 billion spent during the same time period in 2019.

Oahu was the only island that did not see an increase of visitors in April (416,285) over its April 2019 numbers (487,367).

But all islands saw visitor spending in April increase over April 2019 figures.

On Oahu, visitor spending in April was $703.4 million, up from $613.3 million in April 2019. On Kauai, visitor spending in April was $176.3 million, up from $135.8 million in April 2019. And, on Hawaii island, April spending was at $199.3 million compared to $149.1 million in April 2019.

DeFries said that HTA also continues to work directly with communities across Hawaii to implement the Destination Management Action Plans — which aim to better manage the tourism industry on each island amid backlash over the growing industry — and with its industry partners to reach visitors with educational messages before and after they arrive.

Last week, the agency announced that it would be installing new safety messaging and educational videos in the baggage claim and public areas of Kahului Airport and four other airports across the state.

Educational pieces include the “Kuleana Travel Tips” video series that covers marine life protection, culture, land safety, ocean health, ocean safety and astute renting. The series is being shared on social media and other online platforms, as well as through the driving navigation app Waze for visitors on island.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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