So where exactly are we in terms of demand for Hawaii travel? The spring and summer of 2022 had so much that it was practically unmanageable and overwhelming for visitors and residents alike. But what about the fall of 2022 and beyond? Trust us, everyone is wondering the same thing, so you’re not alone.
How much is travel demand to Hawaii down after incredible peaks earlier this year?
Yes there are. And no, there isn’t. The signals are mixed, as you’ll see below.
1. State data still shows the number of arrivals is up, but with a twist.
As of Sept. 1, the state’s travel data dashboard shows August was up, showing 27,301 average daily domestic arrivals. This was an increase of 14.6% compared to 2019 (the last comparable year). And so it has been since the spring of 2022. But now, something is being seen. You can see it visually in the chart below. What you can start to see happening is that starting in July, some days were seeing fewer domestic visitor arrivals than before Covid. And this trend is continuing.
2. Anecdotal evidence on the softening of Hawaii’s travel economy.
Here on the ground, we’re seeing fewer lines everywhere, including at the airport and to get into restaurants, fewer visitor cars on the road, and reports from business owners across the islands we’re in contact with who report that demand is somewhat less general.
BOH editor Jeff also flew to the continent this week, which you will read about shortly. The flight he took to the mainland had only 48 seats out of 147 available. At the same time, another airline’s flight sharing the same lounge with his flight had only 35 passengers on board, with a capacity of 175.
3. Reasons for the initial decline in travel to Hawaii.
These are all reasons you probably know about. They include ridiculous price hikes in Hawaii accommodations and other expenses. On the other hand, flights to Hawaii have remained fairly stable, at least so far, due to increased competition. Other reasons are the feeling that Hawaii doesn’t want that many visitors. Also, there are important reasons that have little to do with Hawaii, including inflation and the troubling economic situation in the US.
4. What does this mean for visitors??
Prices may finally stop rising. Beat of Hawaii editors will be back in Honolulu for work next month, and the price they’re paying for the same modest accommodation is over 200% over pre-Covid. Fewer flights are also likely to result from falling demand. This could mean more route cancellations, as well as flights operating only a few days a week instead of days. We already see it, for example, on both Hawaiian Air and Alaska Air, where some flights only operate 2-4 times a week.
An ancillary benefit of slowing travel means not waiting in long TSA lines. Editor Jeff reports that he never waited in line more than five minutes at TSA this week both on his way out of Hawaii and on his way back from the mainland to Hawaii.
5. Will visitors still choose Hawaii?
Of course, they will. Jeff witnessed the excitement of arriving visitors aboard a full flight to Hawaii yesterday. But there are limitations, including cost consciousness at a much more significant level than immediately after Covid. Travelers want to get the best possible value for their vacation dollars.
6. How visitors can benefit more?
If you have flexibility in travel seasons and times, you will be pleasantly surprised. However, for peak demand seasons, prices will remain high and even increase.