Are We Becoming Too Popular?

The Aloha State of Hawaii is tracking to welcome more than 10 million visitors in a single calendar year for the first time in history, tourism officials say.

Hawaii Tourism Authority data showed there have been nearly 8.7 million visitors through October, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported

That figure is a 5.5% increase over the 8.2 million arrivals through the same period last year, when the state’s annual count was 9.9 million visitors.

The 800,448 tourists who visited Hawaii in October was an increase of nearly 37,000 during the same month last year. The 4.8% increase is part of a decade-long growth pattern, officials said.

The growth reflects more tourists traveling to the state from the U.S. mainland and countries including Japan and Canada, officials said.

Spending by tourists was down for seven of the first nine months of 2019, followed by a small gain last month when spending rose 0.9%, or $12 million. October’s increase pushed the year-to-date spending up by $34.7 million to $1.32 billion, compared to $1.31 billion a year earlier. Besides lodging and food, visitor spending includes shopping, car rentals and interisland travel.

The tourism authority’s goal has been to attract higher-spending visitors who contribute more to the state’s economy, rather than more visitors who spend less but have greater impacts on infrastructure, natural resources and communities, officials said.

On Kauai in particular, Visitors average about 28,000 a day, according to statistics from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. (DBEDT). The average number of visitors to Kauai has actually remained relatively steady from 1990 to 2018. Last year, Kauai had about 1.38 million visitor arrivals, which is the highest recorded number, but that’s only slightly higher than some 1.23 million in 1990 or around 1.2 million in 2006, according to the DBEDT.

On Kauai, it's one of the factors the Kauai Tourism Strategic Plan 2019-2021 is considering as the community works together to try and mitigate “over tourism.” The plan titled “Refocusing Tourism to Find Balance” can be found here along with other valuable tourism information:

“Everybody thinks it's all rental cars on the island,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau (KVB), who plays a primary role in the plan. But that’s not actually the case, according to statistics. Between 1990 and 2018, the number of people who call Kauai home increased by more than 20,000, according to reports from the DBEDT.

The Kauai Tourism Strategic Plan 2019-2021 was developed by the County of Kauai, the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association on Kauai and KVB. It relies on partnerships between it's members and the community along with input from various tourism-related industries. The focus is on strategies for sustainable tourism, including traffic mitigation in harmony with Kauai's natural and cultural environment. For more information and resources on Kauai's visitor industry - go here:




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