Travel and Tourism - Hawaii - May 2015
“Tourism is the biggest contributor to the Hawaiian economy and, with limited scope for economic diversification within the islands, it will remain central to the state’s future economic health. Increasing awareness of brand Hawaii, solidifying its reputation as a premium destination and delivering added value to tourists, will help improve the state’s tourism competitiveness and ensure the future growth of its tourism industry. This might also provide Hawaii’s tourism industry with a degree of protection in the face of any future economic turbulence.”
- Jessica Kelly, Senior Tourism Analyst
This report looks at the following areas:
- What does Hawaii offer tourists?
- To what degree is Hawaii’s economy dependent on tourism?
- How can Hawaii safeguard against any future decline in airlift to the islands?
- What investment is being made/will be made in Hawaii’s tourism infrastructure?
- What are the principles guiding the development and promotion of tourism in Hawaii?
- How can Hawaii diversify and strengthen its tourism brand and products?
- What trajectory is Hawaii’s tourism industry likely to follow in the near future?
To many, Hawaii is a tropical paradise unlike anywhere else on earth. Hawaii also appeals to visitors as a safe and clean destination with opportunities for rest, relaxation and enjoying the great outdoors aplenty. For others, the romance of Hawaii, Hawaiian culture and the islands’ reputation for friendliness are core components of its appeal. Then there are its upscale hotels, spas and golf courses.
The recent global economic downturn and the US economic recession that accompanied it highlighted the vulnerability of an island dependent not only on tourism, but high-end tourism. Some US commentators joke that Hawaii is on the ‘bucket list’ (things you must do before you die) not just because of it is idyllic setting, but also because it is an expensive destination. As consumers reined in their spending, airlines curtailed flights and cruise lines scaled down operations, the volume of arrivals (domestic and international) declined in 2008 and 2009.
In an era where competition for tourists is intense, Hawaii, however, must be careful not to rest on its tourism laurels. With travellers increasingly craving new and authentic experiences, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) and its partners need to consider ways in which to diversify, differentiate and strengthen brand Hawaii while respecting, promoting and preserving local culture. In order to win new and repeat tourists from (often cheaper) destinations, Hawaii also needs to ensure that its tourism products (everything from experiences unique to the island and group tours to luxury hotels) deliver added value.
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