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Visitors to Hawai‘i report high satisfaction, high likelihood they’ll return

LIHU‘E — Following a lull in international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of visitors to the Hawaiian Islands are highly satisfied with their travels and intend to return soon, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The DBEDT released results of its fourth-quarter 2022 Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey, which polled visitors from the eastern and western U.S. mainland, Canada, Japan, Oceania and Korea between October and December of 2022.

According to the survey, more than three-fourths of visitors in each respective regional market rated their most recent trip to the Aloha State as excellent. Additionally, no region had more than 4 percent of respondents rate their experience as below average or poor.

Despite Hawai‘i’s well-known branding as Paradise on Earth, many visitors still said their experience was even better than they could have imagined.

More than 40 percent of visitors from the eastern and western U.S., Japan and Canada found that their trip exceeded expectations, with more than two-thirds of visitors from Korea reporting that their trip was better than expected. Even on the low end, about one-third of Oceania visitors reported that their trip had exceeded expectation.

Those who enjoyed their stay couldn’t seem to get enough of Hawai‘i, either. In all markets surveyed, more than 60 percent of visitors indicated they were “very likely” to return within the next five years.

In the U.S. West — the state’s largest major market area — more than 80 percent of visitors expressed a high likelihood of returning within this time period.

“Visitors’ expressed interest in returning to Hawai‘i speaks to the quality experience provided by our industry and community partners, and the individuals who engage with travelers throughout the state,” said John De Fries, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority president and CEO.

“We continue to educate visitors about how to travel mindfully — including ways they can support local businesses, preserve our islands’ natural and cultural resources, and make meaningful connections,” De Fries said.

However, survey results indicate the success of that education may have missed the mark.

In each surveyed market, more than two-thirds of visitors had seen or heard about the importance of caring for and respecting Hawai‘i’s culture, people and environment before arriving.

While visitors may know to value these aspects of Hawai‘i, awareness of how to actually contribute to them appears to have fallen flat.

With the exception of Korea, less than one-fourth of visitors in each region saw or heard anything prior to their arrival about volunteering or opportunities to give back once they reached Hawai‘i.

Additionally, less than one-third of visitors from each region besides Korea were unaware of the Malama Hawai‘i program, a state-led initiative encouraging visitors to maintain the state’s cultural history and environment with local nonprofits in exchange for rewards and discounts.

Garden Island shines

Visitors to Kaua‘i left the Garden Isle highly satisfied, according to the survey.

In all regional markets surveyed, more than three-fourths of visitors rated their experience on Kaua‘i as excellent.

With the exceptions of eastern U.S. visitors preferring O‘ahu and Korean visitors preferring both O‘ahu and Maui, all surveyed regions reported higher satisfaction rates when visiting Kaua‘i than when visiting any other major Hawaiian Island.

Visitors from all regions gravitated toward Hanalei, Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls, Old Koloa Town and Po‘ipu Beach more than any other locations on the island.

Most guests also found Kaua‘i residents to be particularly friendly. More than 75 percent of visitors from the U.S., Japan, Canada and Oceania reported Kaua‘i’s friendliness as excellent. Visitors from Korea were not as enthused, although 54.5 percent of guests still reported Kaua‘i as highly friendly.

While Kaua‘i’s beaches shined — no region had more than 3 percent of visitors negatively review them — shopping opportunities, dining options, roads and transportation were the most common aspects of the island to receive negative responses from visitors.

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Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-245-0427 or jhealy@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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