Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There has been great concern about the sharp downturn in tourism on the Big Island of Hawaii over the past year. Our trips to the west side of the island from November to January confirmed a disappointing high season. But something has changed dramatically this February. Kona is filled with tourists crowding the sidewalks along Ali’i Drive, the seats in restaurants, and the parking lots. We are seeing them driving around the island and filling the hotels where we had the swimming pools to ourselves this past November and December.

We ask them at every opportunity where they are from. They are not the Californian visitors that have come in the past years. They are from the mid-west and the east coast of the US, from Canada, Northern Europe and Australia. The couples and families we’ve talked to were mostly first timers to the Big Island and they were having a really good time. They were eager to be in Kailua (Kona) and get away from the cold snowy winter in the Northern hemisphere and everyone we talked to was dreading their return home.

We wonder if the global news coverage of President Obama in Hawaii over Christmas has finally had an effect. We wonder if people have confused Kailua (Oahu) with Kailua (Kona). And we are certain that the exceptionally frigid snowy winter of 2010 has encouraged people to escape to a warmer climate.

Our observations can’t be verified until the visitor statistics are released by the State of Hawaii in 60 days, but if they are true, we believe it may be due to the ”Snowbama Effect”.


Tony B said...

I'm from the Southeast and we recently visited the BI, not because fo the snowbama... but because for years we've vacationed in Maui and Oahu and those places have become too expensive in todays economy. We are no longer staying in the expensive hotels but staying in VBRO properties..just my two cents, Best Tony

larry said...

i would have to say that the cold winter would not be why people are here since few people book vacations a few weeks out, they usually plan 4 or 5 months out and the cold winter has not been going on that long.

as for confusing kailua-kona (the actual name just most people shorten it to kona) with kailua-oahu (the actual name that people shorten to kailua) i doubt that is happening, would tend to agree with tony b that people are coming to the big island because it is less expensive.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Oahu has gotten WAY too expensive.

pedalpower said...

Another midwesterner here, who just returned from a visit to the big island. We had been last year, and I just couldn't stay away. I love the more laid back atmosphere on the big island. We had a wonderful time visiting with friends in Hilo and enjoying the sun. I know you all needed rain, and the day I left it was showering...hope everyone's water tanks are full!

I've been telling everyone to check out VRBO also.

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