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Hawaii Is Quickly Losing Popularity: Why Many Travelers Say They’ll Never Return

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During the past few months, Hawaiian authorities —and locals— have been complaining about over-tourism, and their wish of having fewer tourists is starting to come true. 

Just two months ago, The State of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources announced that travelers would have to pay a fee and make an online reservation to visit the iconic Diamond Head State Monument to avoid large crowds and protect the natural environment. But this might no longer be necessary.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) recently published an official report showing the results of a recent survey for visitor satisfaction in 2022, and the conclusions were controversial: travelers were extremely satisfied with their travel experience but didn’t want to return soon, mainly due to high prices. 

Travel To Hawaii Is Changing

During the pandemic, tourism in Hawaii has been crucial to counter the consequences of the global health crisis. Many visitors during the pandemic were returning visitors. And, at the beginning of the year, from January to March 2022, it was estimated that 75% of tourists were returning visitors.

John De Fries, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), explained why Hawaii was becoming such a popular destination a few months ago: “An essential component of Hawai‘i’s sustained recovery, the increase in visitor satisfaction during the first quarter is attributable to the numerous, hardworking individuals in our community – from the flight attendants and front desk agents, to the stewards of our natural and cultural resources, to the musicians and entertainers, and the shop owners and restaurant servers.”

However, almost 4,000 travelers were surveyed, and many visitors from the United States and Canada —which represent the majority of travelers visiting Hawaii— stated that they didn't want to return to Hawaii. 

Despite that 9 out of 10 assured that they would recommend Hawaii as a vacation destination to friends and family, compared to results from 2021 more travelers stated that wouldn’t return ever nor in 5 years.

Why Travelers Won’t Return To Hawaii

US and Canadian travelers love Hawaii and nearly 90% rated their time in this destination as “excellent”. However, there are a few reasons why visitors will not be returning:

  • High prices: Hawaii has the highest hotel prices in the United States with an average of $371 per night. Luxury hotels’ average is $887 and Maui is the most expensive island. Also, gas prices are higher than the national price —it’s been above $5.60 per gallon during the past few weeks— and restaurants and car rentals are also expensive.
  • Travelers can now visit international destinations: During the pandemic, Hawaii was the perfect destination not only because of its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and great attractions but also because there weren’t as many alternatives. Now that travelers can visit exotic and cheaper destinations, Hawaii has lost popularity.
Couple Of Travelers Taking A Selfie With A Selfie Stick In Bali, Indonesia
  • Locals dislike tourists: There’s been a huge debate over tourism in the archipelago. Locals and authorities have publicly complained about having too many tourists and a few weeks ago a local mayor requested airlines to reduce the number of flights to the islands. Some travelers do not feel as welcome or comfortable as they would like to while they are on vacations.

According to the local site Beat of Hawaii, local authorities and residents should be more concerned about why travelers are not returning and stated many reasons why returning guests are important: regular income stream for different companies in the travel industry, loyalty, and considering that they are more likely to pay for upgrades.

Authorities in Hawaii must determine now whether the loss of travelers' interest in returning to this destination is beneficial or detrimental. John De Fries assured to be considering every aspect: “We aim to foster the right balance in which Hawai‘i’s residents, natural resources, and culture can thrive, and visitors can have a meaningful, enriching experience.”

Read More:

Hawaii Faces Overtourism With Maui Planning To Limit Number of Tourists

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19

Travelers Will Have To Make A Reservation To Visit Major Hawaii Attraction

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Skippy

Friday 19th of April 2024

I came across this comment section looking up “Why is Hawaii so trashy”. My 1st visit was to Oahu in 2010, I was excited because it was Hawaii, but left disappointed. We stayed in Waikiki, it’s like San Francisco in the 70s. Never went back. I’ve visited every year since to Kauai and Maui. Kauai is my favorite, Maui is trashy. Garbage all over, abandoned stripped cars everywhere. Trashy homeless on the beaches. One crazy looking dreadlock wearing bum erected his tent on the bathrooms of a public beach and will fight you if you try to use it. Why is this allowed? FUwokeHawaii.

Gp

Sunday 17th of September 2023

What a shameless comment about yet another new fee:

"reduce the quantity of Hawaii’s “low-end” visitors and “the total number of tourists.”

But that's what we've known about Hawaii for a long time haven't we; so that is why this high-end visitor is never going back ever to any of the -Islands.

Boy, do you have any idea how poor the mismanagement and greetings with Hawaii already? The last time I went to Maui they were charging for everything that used to be free already but now you need another visitor fee? And how exactly is that going to be used I haven't seen anything go to the Improvement of these islands virtually nothing. By Hawaii other places in the world to go to see I just can't take it anymore.

Mac

Monday 14th of August 2023

Unfriendly people, leptospirosis, rat lungworm disease, sewage dumps on beaches, overpriced, crowded, tainted water, dog fighting, pet dog eating, ugly buildings, unhealthy cuisine, crappy 'sand' beaches, methheads...what's not to like about Hawai'i? I have met many people from Hawai'i, they have no desire to move back even though some have a free place to stay with family.

Frank

Saturday 12th of August 2023

Beautiful Maui, it's aloha so overrated and hard to find. Nothing special. I visited 12 years ago and enjoyed my visit very much, but likely will never go back, too expensive, the Natives too race-concious about Haoli's and local's and Natives. Everyone is a refugee looking for refuge in the lands of another. Best to spend money whare you are counted as a person and not just a tourist.

Mahealani

Friday 28th of April 2023

This post is fantastic. Please don't come to Hawai'i! We don't want you here. Sincerely, Native Hawaiians.

Kia

Thursday 10th of August 2023

@Mahealani,

Oh, one last thing - as I’m sure you know, the state motto of Hawai’i are the famous words spoken by Kamehameha III:

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono

“The life of the land is in the hand of righteousness” or maybe better as, “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

But I’m not really sure it actually is, anymore though, sadly…

May you focus on kindness rather than hatred.

Kia

Thursday 10th of August 2023

@Mahealani,

No worries! I will NEVER return. When I was a child it seemed the spirit of Hawai’i was in me. I learned as much of the native Hawaiian language as I could, and I learned every bit of the history I could find, from cultural to scientific.

I even did my award winning science project on how the Hawaiian Islands were formed - by a deep mantle plume as the Pacific plate drifts to the northwest, the islands at the Midway area, the Northwest islands, being much lower and therefore clearly much, much, older than the Big Island at the southern end, with its gentle volcanic eruptions containing few serious emissions, from deep in the mantle, creating shield volcanoes at the surface (not just simply “volcanoes”).

In fact, I have relatives through marriage who are related to the Robinson family, who own Ni’ihau (no I have not been there; as you no doubt know, it’s very restricted).

And with all of that, with my deep love for Hawai’i and even the connection with the Robinson family, Hawai’i was where I learned about vicious hatred and racism - hate of all who either are not native or not multi-generational kama’aina. I put a sign on my bedroom when I was a kid, “Kapu malihini; Aloha kama’aina.” But then I later realized just how vicious and hateful that saying could get. Even with brown eyes and black hair I was still too pale and not a long-enough resident there to deserve anything but hateful vitriol from locals.

But, my Tahitian friends who would come up every year in the summer to enjoy cheaper shopping in Hawai’i were worlds kinder and nicer people - with the many backgrounds and shades they also were, some a mutt like me, some Asian, some blonde white, and some pure Polynesian. They were and still are my friends and I learned to speak French to hang out with them - with the fun, kind, caring, people they can be.

No more yelling at me when you, or people like you, drive by. No more glares. No more exclusion. No. More. Hate. When I want Polynesia, I now visit my kind friends in Tahiti. And as for Hawai’i: I haven’t lived there or visited in a few years, and I have zero plans to ever return - you can keep your hateful islands to yourselves…!!🫱🏼‍🫲🏻