Maui saw almost 2.3 million visitors in 2021 | News, Sports, Jobs

Visitors exit baggage claim at Kahului Airport in February 2021. Last year, Maui welcomed nearly 2.3 million visitors, still short of the 3 million pre-pandemic visitor levels in 2019, according to a recent report. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui saw nearly 2.3 million visitors last year who spent a total of $4 billion, which is closer to pre-pandemic numbers but still falls short of 2019, according to a recent report of interim visitor statistics from the state Department of Transportation Economy, economic development and tourism.

In 2021, Maui received 2,299,476 visitors, compared to 792,602 visitors in 2020 and 3,059,905 visitors in 2019.

Total visitor spending in 2019 was $5.13 billion.

Comparable visitor spending statistics are not available as departure surveys of visitors could not be conducted from April to October 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the report said. In some cases, spend data was from US visitors only, as data from visitors from other markets was unavailable due to limited field counts due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Overall, the country welcomed around 6.8 million visitors in 2021, which is more than double the 2020’s around 2.7 million visitors, but still below the 2019 total visitors of around 10 million.

In 2021, visitor spending in Hawaii reached $13 billion, down 26.6 percent from 2019’s $17.7 billion, the report said.

A similar pattern was evident in December, with visitor numbers beating 2020 totals but still lagging behind visitor arrivals and total spending compared to December 2019.

In December, Maui received 235,433 visitors, compared to 91,171 visitors in 2020 and 275,419 visitors in December 2019. Visitor spending was $499.7 million, down 2.6 percent from 513.1 million equivalent to US dollars in December 2019.

In December there were 753,670 statewide visitors, all by plane, compared to 236,575 visitors in 2020, also all by plane. In 2019, 952,441 visitors arrived by plane and cruise ship.

Cruise lines have resumed operations in Hawaii this year, with the first ships arriving in Maui since the pandemic began last month.

Total state spending was $1.66 billion in December, compared to $1.75 billion in December 2019.

“US attendance in December 2021 was the eighth consecutive month to surpass the same month compared to 2019 and international attendance at 77,748, highest since March 2020,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney in a press release.

He added that the emergence of the Omicron variant, which spread across the US and was discovered in Hawaii in December, led to this “in the slowdown in arrivals likely to continue through the first quarter of 2022.”

“As long as Hawaii remains a safe travel destination, we can regain our momentum with visitor arrivals to recover in the second quarter of this year,” added McCartney. “We remain on course to welcome more visitors in 2022 than in 2021.”

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Hawaii’s traveler quarantine requirements, the state hit record levels of visitor spending and arrivals in 2019 and the first two months of 2020.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at [email protected]

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