2022 is shaping to be a good year for Hawaiʻi tourism. So far, nearly 5.5 million people have visited the islands this year, spending $11.2 billion.
While there were 13% fewer visitors compared to the first seven months of 2019, spending rose nearly 6%.
But what can we expect in the coming months?
“We do see quite a few less seats overall in September compared to 2019,” said Jennifer Chun, director of tourism research at the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. “We still have more domestic seats than we did in 2019, but less than 2021. And we do see some increases in international seats. Looking into October, it’s a similar pattern.”
Chun attributes the fewer air seats to changing schedules for airlines. In 2021, airlines shifted their routes to accommodate the demand of domestic travelers.
The time between the peak summer and winter travel seasons, and vice versa, is what’s known in the industry as a “shoulder season.” Historically, there is less demand during the spring and fall seasons.
“Typically for an airline like Hawaiian, during the summer we’ll be about 90% full,” said Brent Overbeek, chief revenue officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “As we get into kind of the latter part of August, September, and into end of fall, that typically will dip into the mid-80s.”
DBEDT’s latest economic outlook for the state predicts visitor arrivals will make a 99% recovery between September and November, compared to the same period in 2019.
Overbeek confirms with HPR that Hawaiian Airlines bookings are strong in the coming months.
“Demand overall, particularly in North America, is holding up well. We’re seeing strong travel within the state.”
Overbeek tells HPR that travelers from the East Coast typically book their flights farther in advance than travelers from the West Coast. He says East Coast travelers book a flight at least four months in advance, while West Coast passengers will book closer to three months.