Tourism in Hawaii

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The Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiʻi is the name of several islands and are among the numerous Pacific Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Of these, the islands which have significant tourism are: Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, and Lānaʻi.

In 2003 alone, according to state government data, there were over 6.4 million visitors to the Hawaiian Islands with expenditures of over $10.6 billion.[1] Due to the mild year-round weather, tourist travel is popular throughout the year. The summer months and major holidays are the most popular times for outsiders to visit, however, especially when residents of the rest of the United States are looking to escape from cold, winter weather. The Japanese, with their economic and historical ties to Hawaii and the USA as well as relative geographical proximity, used to be the principal tourists but due to the collapse of the yen of 50% and the weak Japanese economy have now been surpassed by the Chinese and Koreans. The average Japanese stays only 5 days while other Asians stay over 9.5 days and spend 25% more.[2]

2006 and 2007 saw a big increase in tourism, with over 7.6 million visitors each year.[3][4]

History of travel to Hawaiʻi[edit]

Hawaii was first populated no later than the 2nd century CE by people of Polynesian origin, most likely from Tahiti.[5] Subsequent Western contact began as a consequence of European Enlightenment exploration and was continued by Protestant ministers of New England origin in the early 19th century.

18th century[edit]

The first recorded western visitor to Hawaiʻi was Captain James Cook on his third and final fatal voyage in the Pacific. In 1555 Spaniard Juan Gaetano reports finding a group of islands at the same latitude as the Hawaiian Isles, but he reports the longitude incorrectly. Debate continues as to whether the Spanish visited the islands before James Cook.

19th century[edit]

19th-century travelers included journalist Isabella Bird.[6] American writers include Mark Twain aboard the Ajax as a travel journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle,[7] and Herman Melville as a whaler. Twain's unfinished novel of Hawaii was incorporated into his A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, with King Arthur bearing striking similarities to Kamehameha V, the first reigning monarch Twain was to meet. The "modernizing" potential offered by the Connecticut Yankee from the future is a satire of the potentially negative Protestant Missionary influence on Hawaiian life. Melville's writing of the Pacific includes Typee and Omoo (considered factual travel accounts when published) and his Pacific experiences would develop, infamously, into the portrayal of the fictional savage Queequeg in Moby-Dick.

British writers include the Scot Robert Louis Stevenson, whose subsequent In the South Seas was published based on his voyages.[8] During his stay in the islands, he wrote a stunning defense of Father Damien's work with the lepers of Kalaupapa against the politicized views of Father Damien's Protestant detractors. Consequently, Hawaiʻi is home to the eponymous Stevenson Middle School. Stevenson later died in Samoa.[9]

19th Century development in Hawaii played a big part in the increase of tourism that continued into the 21st century. Advanced technologies including cars, marketing, hotels, and shopping malls allow vacationers to visit a modernized tropical island, which contributes heavily to steady growth in tourism. Conversely, the Native Hawaiian population continues to decrease, resulting in a loss of authentic Hawaiian culture on the islands, similar to other Oceanian islands.[10]

20th century[edit]

In 1907, Jack London and his wife Charmian sailed to Hawaii learning the "royal sport" of surfing and travelling by horseback to Haleakala and Hana as chronicled in his book The Cruise of the Snark. 1929 saw 22,000 tourists visit Hawaii, while the number of tourists exceeded 1 million for the first time in 1967.[11]

Native Hawaiian academic and activist Haunani-Kay Trask's "Lovely Hula Hands" is severely critical of the huge influx of tourists to Hawaiʻi, which she terms a "prostitution" of Hawaiian culture. She ends her essay with "let me just leave this thought behind. If you are thinking of visiting my homeland, please don't. We don't want or need any more tourists, and we certainly don't like them."[12]

21st century[edit]

Although 2006 and 2007 saw a big increase of tourism, it soon took a turn for the worse when Hawaiʻi's economy plummeted. Tourism officials say several factors have kept sightseers away: Two major airlines and two cruise ships stopped operating in the Aloha State, reducing options for visitors, high fuel prices last summer deterred travel, then recessions in Japan and the U.S., as well as California's economic meltdown, slowed the flow of tourists.[13]

As of 9 years ago, in 2007, Japanese tourists on average used to spend more money than American tourists; because of this, tourism-related businesses in Hawaii used to value Japanese customers. However this has all changed with the collapse of the value of the yen and the Japanese economy. The average Japanese now stays only 5 days. The average Asian from China and Korea stays more than 9.5 days and spends 25% more.[14][15]

Hawaii has been seeing increased numbers of visitors from South Korea and China.[16][17][18]

In 2011, Hawaii has seen increasing arrivals and share of foreign tourists from Canada, Australia and China increasing 13%, 24% and 21% respectively from 2010.[19]

Golf Clubs and Courses in Hawaii


  1. ^ Hawaii State DBEDT (2003). "Overview of All Visitors" (PDF). Summary of 2004 Visitors to Hawaii: 2. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "" (PDF). 
  3. ^ Hawaii State DBEDT (2006). "All Visitors" (PDF). 2006 Annual Visitor Research Report: 2. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Hawaii State DBEDT (2007). "All Visitors" (PDF). 2007 Annual Visitor Research Report: 2. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Young, Kanalu G. Terry (1998). Rethinking the Native Hawaiian Past. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-8153-3120-9. 
  6. ^ Bird, Isabella (1875). The Hawaiian Archipelago. London: John Murray. p. 473. 
  7. ^ "Samuel Clemens". PBS:The West. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 
  8. ^ In the South Seas (1896) & (1900) Chatto & Windus; republished by The Hogarth Press (1987). A collection of Stevenson's articles and essays on his travels in the Pacific
  9. ^ "Stevenson's tomb". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  10. ^ Tracie Ku'uipo Losch & Momi Kamahele, Hawai'i: Center of the Pacific(The Contemporary Pacific, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1993),495-499.
  11. ^ Merrit, Clifton (October 2011). "Why shipping live pigs to Hawaii did not end with the ancient Polynesians & Captain Cook". Animal People. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Trask, Haunani-Kay. "Lovely Hula Hands." From A Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaiʻi. Maine: Common Courage Press, 1993. 195-196.
  13. ^ WOO, STU "Heavy Reliance on Tourism Has Hawaii's Economy Hurting." Wall Street Journal - Eastern Edition 17 Aug. 2009: A3. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 29 Oct. 2009.
  14. ^ "" (PDF). 
  15. ^ "Hawaii tourism officials concerned about Japanese visitor decline." USA Today. February 2, 2007. Retrieved on October 10, 2010.
  16. ^ Wiles, Greg (October 2010). "Hawaii’s Fast-Growing Source for Tourists". Hawaii Business. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  17. ^ Kubota, Lisa (23 November 2010). "Surge in tourism from South Korea". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  18. ^ Yonan Jr., Alan (17 March 2010). "S. Korea tourists on rise". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  19. ^ O'Neill, Sandler (9 September 2011). "Bank of Hawaii Offers a Safe Port". Barrons Online. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 

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