Oahu island, Hawaii

Hawaii Tourism: No Cruise Visitors Until Mid-2021

UPDATE May 27 1pm: 

Eugene Tian, Ph.D, Economic Research Administrator for the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism responded to our inquiry regarding the line in their report which stated “No cruise visitors until second half of 2021″. His clarification received via email is below: 

Regarding the cruise visitors to Hawaii, that is a pure assumption by a group of economists within the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the assumption is NOT a decision of government officials.  Our assumption is on the conservative side, the purpose is to provide the economic impact of a conservative scenario.  The assumption is based on two factors: (1) the projected COVID-19 pandemic will finish by the end of 2020 worldwide; (2) people are reluctant to travel via cruise for a few month after the ending of the pandemic.

There are a few cruise ships are scheduled to visit Hawaii during Fall this year.  If the 14-day quarantine for transpacific visitors is lifted earlier than September, the cruise ship visiting will be possible and visitor arrivals to Hawaii will be higher than we assumed.

The article as originally posted appears below:

May 27, 2020 11am:

As some tourism boards in the Caribbean and Europe are taking steps towards reopening their countries to travelers, the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) is going in the opposite direction according to a bullet point buried in their second quarter 2020 Statistical and Economic Report. 

The report, released May 22, states that Hawaii’s economic growth will fall by 12.1 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the islands won’t see cruise passengers until at least halfway through 2021. The report also predicts that it will be six years until visitors return to the island at the same levels as 2019. 

According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, 142,836 people took a cruise to Hawaii in 2019. 

Bad News for Hawaiian Cruises

The report released by DBEDT focuses on the state’s economics as a whole, but the bullet point regarding cruises was startling and unfortunately, the report didn’t go into detail about why it was the case. 

The Department’s report stated “No cruise visitors until second half of 2021” but didn’t explain if that was a decision made by state officials or simply a forecast regarding the reluctance of people to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Porthole Cruise has reached out to department members for clarification and will report back with any new information. 

Regarding visitors to the islands in general, the report stated: 

Hawaii will welcome 3.4 million visitors in 2020, a decrease of 67.5 percent from the 2019 level. Visitor arrivals will increase to 6.2 million in 2021, 8.3 million in 2022, and 9.4 million in 2023. Visitor arrivals will not reach the 2019 level until 2025, based on the assumptions.

“Hawaii was one of the hardest hit states economically, but is one of the safest states in the nation during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney. “While our economy will not recover overnight, Hawaii is well positioned because of our strong human will, innovative spirit and physical infrastructure. We are well positioned to go beyond recovery and evolve into a more balanced and diversified economy.”

We’ll keep an eye on the story and update when more details become available.