Using 2005-2007 statistics from the tourism authority in Hawaii we can present the following data. The graph seen here (to the right) shows the Total ARRIVAL Data in 2007 to each island (including multi-destination/island arrivals). You can also view the 2006 data graph. A pie chart is not truly the best format to display the visitor totals for the various islands as the number of visitors shown in the chart is greater than the true total, as many visitors go to more than one island. However, for our purposes, it should give you an idea of how many visitors (percentage wise) are arriving/visiting each island. Just keep in mind the actual arrival numbers are "inflated" a bit. A more accurate way to look at this is Visitor Days per island. You can view a chart of the Total Visitor Days per island as well. The percentages are what's important here, and you can see they do not change very much.
The tabular chart shown further below (you can click the box to enlarge it) gives the breakdown of visitors in the islands on a month by month basis (color coded per island). The bold lines that are clearly visible are the 2007 data trends. The faded "background" lines which almost looks like shadows of the darker lines are the 2006 trends. As you can see, 2007 was a better year overall for the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai, but on Oahu, travel dropped in 2007 in comparison with 2006. That is the second consecutive year that travel on Oahu has dropped while overall visitation has increased on the other islands.
In considering the "health" of the tourism market, one must also put emphasis on the two factors that are the most important: "visitor days" and "visitor expenditures." Mahalo for the tip by amberloo at TripAdvisor. In her words, "If there are more visitor days and more money being spent annually over the long-term, the industry is healthy regardless of any other factors; such as mere arrival totals. The goal of many government planners is to increase "days" and "spending" while limiting (or even decreasing) arrival counts."
Why limit arrival counts you might ask? One has to consider tourism "capacities" of the islands and how that will effect future trends. Maui and O'ahu likely reached their carrying capacity (for visitors) years ago, thus have few remaining competitive development opportunities and will not have the statistical fluctuations or upside growth potentials seen on Kaua'i. In fact, due to growth in 2007, Kaua'i has now about reached its own carrying capacity pending completion of on-going development in areas like Po'ipu.
2007 Tourism Authority Final Report For the full year 2007, total visitor days decreased 1.6 percent, while total arrivals dipped 1.2 percent to 7,368,048 visitors. The average length of stay was virtually unchanged at 9.15 days. Visitors from Canada grew 5.3 percent and arrivals from the U.S. West rose slightly (+.1%), but there were fewer Japanese (-3.5%) and U.S. East (-3.3%) visitors compared to 2006.
"Hawai'i's visitor industry remained stable in 2007 especially coming off of two robust years of growth," said State Tourism Liaison, Marsha Wienert. "We continue to be encouraged by the increase in visitor spending, as well as ongoing growth in the number of visitors from markets such as Canada, Hawaii's fourth largest market, and the strong performance of Hawai'i's cruise industry."
2007 and 2006 Data
Compare with 2006 and 2005 graph
Individual Island Data (See chart for reference)
The statistic below are "arrival" data - meaning visitors who arrived in the islands (either from the mainland US, abroad, or from another island). When viewing these statistics, we encourage visitors to keep the geographic size of the islands in mind. For example, the Big Island and Kauai have very similar trends in arrivals. However, the Big Island is significantly larger than Kauai (in fact, it is larger than all of the other islands combined) so numbers alone cannot tell the complete story. Kauai and the Big Island may very well have the exact same number of visitors any given month, but the size of the island will also determine how "crowded" it feels.
The Big Island of Hawaii, the largest in the chain typically ranges between 100,000-150,000 arrivals each month. These numbers were generally higher in 2007 in comparison to either 2006 or 2005. Excluding the summer "hump" felt through all the islands, the number of arrivals fluctuates much less than some other islands in the chain, so visitation is usually about the same in Hawai'i. Spring visitation was notably higher in 2007 when compared to 2006 and Fall visitation was notably lower. The events we noted on the best time to travel to Hawaii page, that are held each spring and fall, can increase visitor ratios on the island.
Maui, the second largest island in the chain, typically ranges between 175,000-250,000 arrivals each month. On some years Maui's arrival numbers bounce around a good bit throughout the year, but in 2007 they remained fairly constant. The summer "hump" is by far the largest period of arrivals, but there are also significant spikes at other times during the year, most notably around the Christmas holidays. Maui also saw more arrivals in 2007 than either 2006 or 2005. March has the largest notable increase in 2007, while December had the most notable decrease.
Kauai, the fourth largest island in the chain, typically ranges between 95,000-120,000 visitors each month. Kauai, in general, is a much quieter island (arrival wise) when compared to the likes of the other islands in the chain. But that may be due to its size and "theme" (all things green). The summer "hump" is the only really busy time on the island, though it's not as distinct as the "hump" Maui and Oahu experience. Kauai, like Maui and the Big Island, saw higher arrival numbers in 2007 than previously in either 2006 or 2005. It is also clear the Kauai saw a notable increase in Spring and early Summer 2007 traffic when compared to 2006.
Oahu, the third largest island in the chain, typically ranges between 350,000-450,000 visitors each month. As you can quickly see, that number quickly dwarfs the other islands arrival data. Oahu is widely popular with visitors abroad, and given that 75% of the state's population lives on this single island, the arrival data can skew accordingly. Oahu's numbers were down in 2007 in comparison to 2006, but Oahu remains the most popular island of choice for many visitors. The drop in visitation, as noted, has now happened twice in a row over the last three years.
Molokai and Lanai only make up 2% of all visitor arrivals combined. If you're heading to the islands, we suggest you look at the detailed statistics provided on the Hawaii government page linked above.
If you want even more detailed tourism specifications, please visit the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.