2019 Kauai Tourism Activity by the Numbers

OK, it wasn’t just us. Kauai actually had less tourist activity in 2019 versus 2018, seeing decreases in both visitor spending and visitor arrivals. Not by much, mind you, but noteworthy. 

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, in 2019 Kauai visitor spending dropped by -4.7% to $1.90 billion. Visitor arrivals (-1.0%), visitor days (-2.5%) and daily visitor spending (-2.2% to $188 per person) also all decreased compared to 2018. There were more visitors from U.S. West (+1.7%) and Japan (+0.4%), but far fewer visitors from Canada (eh?) (-13.8%), and U.S. East (fagedaboutit) (-2.6%). The average daily census declined 2.5% to 27,744 visitors.

The average number of daily visitors may have gone down but add to those 27,744 visitors our ~72K residents and our traffic problems start to make sense. Over 100,000 people per day on average on Kauai. Thankfully, we have more golden sand beaches than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined - more than 53% of our coastline is beach, more than 50 miles of beach, and all public.

Although the annual visitor totals were down, we definitely saw a bump late in the year. In December 2019, visitor spending was up (+7.2% to $175.5 million), visitor arrivals were up (+4.0% to 124,486) and daily visitor spending was up (+5.6% to $181 per person), all compared to December of 2018. It’ll be interesting to see how this rolls over into 2020.

Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands in general spent $17.75 billion in 2019, an increase of 1.4 percent compared to 2018, according to preliminary year-end statistics released today by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Visitor spending includes lodging, interisland airfare, shopping, food, car rental and other expenses while in Hawai‘i.

Spending by visitors generated $2.07 billion in state tax revenue in 2019, an increase of $28.5 million (+1.4%) from 2018. Additionally, 216,000 jobs statewide were supported by Hawai‘i’s tourism industry in 2019.

Tourism dollars from the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT), which visitors pay when they stay in legal accommodations, helped to fund more than a hundred nonprofits, festivals and events statewide in 2019. They include the Merrie Monarch Festival, Aloha Festivals, the Hawai‘i Food and Wine Festival, the Okinawan Festival, the Kauai Chocolate and Coffee Festival, the Nature Conservancy, and the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. That’s cool, huh?

In 2019, visitor spending increased from the U.S. West (+5.9% to $6.98 billion), U.S. East (+3.6% to $4.69 billion) and Japan (+2.0% to $2.19 billion), but declined from Canada (-3.2% to $1.07 billion) and All Other International Markets (-10.4% to $2.77 billion) compared to 2018.

On a statewide level, average daily spending by visitors in 2019 decreased to $195 per person (-1.5%). Visitors from U.S. East (+1.7% to $214) and Canada (+0.6% to $165) spent more per day, while visitors from Japan (-0.6% to $240), U.S. West (-0.5% to $175) and All Other International Markets (-8.5% to $217) spent less compared to 2018.

A total of 10,424,995 visitors came to the state of Hawai‘i in 2019, an increase of 5.4 percent from the 9,888,845 visitors in 2018. Total visitor days rose 3.0 percent in 2019. On average, there were 249,021 visitors in the Hawaiian Islands on any given day in 2019, up 3.0 percent from 2018.

Arrivals by air service increased to 10,282,160 visitors (+5.3%) in 2019, with growth from U.S. West (+9.8%), U.S. East (+4.2%) and Japan (+3.8%) offsetting decreases from Canada (-2.4%) and All Other International Markets (-1.8%). Arrivals by cruise ships rose 12.1 percent to 142,836 visitors compared to 2018.

A total of 13,619,349 trans-Pacific air seats serviced the Hawaiian Islands in 2019, up 2.9 percent from 2018. Growth in air seat capacity from U.S. East (+7.6%) and U.S. West (+5.5%) offset fewer air seats from Other Asia (-10.9%), Oceania (-7.2%), Japan (-2.1%) and Canada (-0.9%).

So, there you have it - 2019 Tourism activity by the numbers. If you want more information (and yes, there is actually more), please reach out – we’re here to help.

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For more information about local happenings on Kauai, or to inquire specifically about Kauai real estate, you can reach us at:

Sean Ahearn & Jim Karlovsky
[email protected]
(800) 808-6373


Our team of professionals is among the most active, experienced and respected on the island of Kauai. We’d value the opportunity to work with you on your purchase or sale of Kauai real estate. Please reach out any anytime with comments, questions, suggestions or concerns. Mahalo – The Team

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