Visitor numbers continue to increase

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today Arriving passengers wait to get their COVID-19 rapid test Thursday at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport.

Visitor numbers continue to increase, although the number of people coming to vacation in the Aloha State is still lower than pre-pandemic arrivals.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority on Thursday released preliminary figures showing there were 90,776 visitors in the state on any given day in February, compared to 250,052 visitors per day in February 2020.

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Trans-Pacific flights to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport continue to increase with additional flights forthcoming.

United Airlines on Thursday announced a new direct Chicago-to-Kona flight beginning in June. And starting early next month, Alaska Airlines will add an additional flight for a total of six daily flights to Kona, which is similar to the number of flights it had during the same period 2019. The airline also announced that this summer it will restart service between Los Angeles and Kona.

In February, more than 36,000 individuals arriving at the Kona airport reported vacationing on the island as their reason for travel. Some 516 reported as intended residents.

On Thursday, approximately 3,300 transpacific travelers passed through the COVID-19 rapid testing station at KOA.

The HTA said more than 90% of visitors are participating in the Hawaii Pre-Clear program by obtaining their negative COVID-19 test results before departing for the islands. Hawaii County still requires a second test upon arrival.

In January and February, 859 flights landed at the Kona airport for a total of 154,761 passengers, a decrease of 33.8% from the same period last year.

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There were 2,556 trans-Pacific flights and 532,220 air seats that serviced the Hawaiian Islands in February, averaging out to 91 flights and 19,008 air seats per day. That is far less than the 172 flights and 38,186 seats per day in February 2020.

Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.

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