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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.
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  • 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

Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!

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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.


Friday 6th of January 2023

I went to Oahu, in august 2021, alone for a week. And I found that the locals only get mad at tourists who don’t respect the land. Especially dumb white people who don’t pay attention to signs, or rules. (Haole) Stay in your lane and the locals will even show you around and give you a true Hawaiian experience. I very much enjoyed my stay there and will go back for a vacation soon.


Thursday 14th of July 2022

Went to Maui June 2016. Didn't like: Pokey drivers on Maui Hwy to Lahaina I passed a car on the right that was leaving a 2-car gap between them and the car in front of them and that car stopped and a woman jumped out and screamed a torrent of curse-words at me and told me to go home (leave the island. Maui airport woefully understaffed. Waited in line 2 hours to get through TSA screening. Might go back but in no hurry.


Thursday 14th of July 2022

I was out there in 2010 and if I had enough cash I'd buy a house and move there tomorrow. I never felt uncomfortable or unwelcome for minute.


Friday 19th of August 2022


The point is that all the complaints about visiting started in just the last few years, not 2010.

Onelia Flores

Thursday 14th of July 2022

I was just in Hawaii two weeks ago. I do agree with the locals not been friendly. I understand Americans don’t have the best reputation but not all of us are rude and act entitled all the time. I make it a point to be respectful from the start but I don’t have the patience to put up with too much so if you don’t give me the same like I did to you well it’s not going to go well. I will not hesitate to take my business elsewhere. For me it’s the simple. I don’t argue back or demand anything if you are disrespectful for no reason I will just go elsewhere. That’s it. Hawaii it’s beautiful . The scenery made it worth it for me. Even though it was the most expensive vacation I have taken so far and not the greatest travel experience of my life. Food was ok not the best. Most tourists activities are very expensive nothing less than 100$ per person which it’s a bit outrageous to me. If I had kids I would definitely not go cause it would be very costly to get them entertain. Waikiki was very crowded. Luckily my first 5 days were on an Airbnb on the other side of the island which was much quieter and relax. Best beaches are on the north side in my opinion. To be such a beautiful place I was surprised that there weren’t more effort made on keeping it eco friendly as possible. All takeout was given to you in styrofoam. Plastic bags were always given it don’t matter if you pay for them or not they are available. I would have thought I would go there and not find this at all. I mean paradise it’s worth protecting at all cost. I picked up all my trash everywhere I went. But still as many tourists that go to Hawaii I would ban this stuff from the island. I concur there are other places you can go that are beautiful, cheaper and have more receptive and appreciative locals. That’s true. Not saying the locals have no reason to be a bit disgruntled but you depend on tourism so I would rethink my situation especially with so many options coming available at the moment. But Hawaii it’s what paradise would look like. I won’t be back anytime soon I don’t think but definitely a once in a lifetime trip that everyone should take.