Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — When it comes to Sun destinations that consistently sell and appeal to travellers, Hawaii ranks among the very top of the list.
Long been regarded as a bucket-list destination, the islands of Hawaii have become the epitome of luxury travel, transforming from the beach hangout of decades past into a high-end, aspirational hotspot. But with increased airlift, a growing list of accommodations and a rebounding Canadian dollar, it’s become much less a bucket-list destination and more of a valid option for a wide array of Canadians.
“Hawaii holds appeal for virtually every kind of traveller, from multigenerational families to honeymooners to adventurers to foodies,” said Tim Morgan, Director, Business Strategy, Canada at Virtuoso. “The islands feature abundant luxury product, with choices from top brands such as Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton. Luxury travellers can explore the islands’ history and culture, enjoy water sports, observe flowing lava from a helicopter and go whale watching with a private guide.”
All this translates into big business coming out of Canada, added Morgan. According to the 2019 Virtuoso Luxe Report, Hawaii was among the top five family travel destinations for Canadians, while Maui ranked second among most popular honeymoon destinations.
Wellness travel is also on the rise, said the report, with hotels like the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii and Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort offering locally-inspired treatments and activities designed to combine wellness and the islands’ cultural heritage.
With 16 properties in Hawaii, including luxury brands such as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont, Virtuoso is seeing strong demand among upscale travellers. Hotel bookings from Canada are up 18% year-over-year, which isn’t a particularly surprising outcome considering that Canadians are the seventh biggest spenders on tourism worldwide.
According to recent statistics from the UNWTO, Canadians spend $31.8 billion per year on tourism, equating to $866.24 per capita, while Americans spend less than half at $414.49 per capita.
Backing up these numbers is the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), which found that Canadian spending in 2017 increased 8.7% to 1.04 billion, while the share of total spending increased from 6% to 6.2%.
The HTA also found that repeat visitors to Hawaii comprise 65% of total visitors. As for where Canadians are staying upon arrival, the HTA reports nearly half (44.6%) stayed in hotels, 35.7% stayed in condominiums, 12.3% stayed in rental homes, 9.6% stayed in timeshares, and 5% stayed with friends or relatives.
What these findings show is that approximately $373 million in hotel spending is up for grabs. And with 91.6% of Canadians coming to Hawaii for vacation, the likelihood of them booking and staying at a hotel is high.
There is unlimited opportunity for local businesses and hotels to secure a piece of the Canadian market. And with more and more luxury travellers arriving in search of sun and sand, all indictors point to continued growth in both visitor arrivals and spend.