American tourists willing to pay more for locally sourced food in Hawaii

(Photo credit: GoFarm Hawaii)

tourists to Hawaii of the continental US are willing to pay more for locally sourced food while vacationing on the islands to help the state become a more sustainable tourism destination, according to a new study published in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights , co-authored by University of Hawaii in Manoa experts.

More than 78% of the 454 respondents said they would be willing to pay a premium or higher price for locally grown food. Of that, about 40% said they are willing to pay up to 5% more, 23% are willing to pay 6-10% more, 16% are willing to pay 11-15% more % more and 10% are willing to pay 16 –25% more for local food.

“The results of this study provided quantitative evidence that American tourists are interested in buying locally grown food in Hawaiiplus their willingness to pay an additional fee for these locally grown food products in a restaurant or hotel dining room, to help Hawaii maintain its long-term tourism viability. These findings address an important gap in current tourism research,” he said. jerry agrusaco-author of the study and professor at the UH Manoa School of Travel Industry Management (TIM) in the Shidler College of Business.

Implications of tourism policy

Hawaii welcomed more than 10 million visitors to the state in 2019, the most recent year not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, up to 90% of HawaiiThe food from is imported and shipping all the food to the islands creates a huge carbon footprint. According to experts, making adjustments to HawaiiThe food supply of is an opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint and become a more sustainable destination.

The researchers hope the study results will help tourism leaders explore whether there are opportunities to better integrate sustainable food consumption and production into the tourism experience. While tourists from the continental US remain the primary market for HawaiiThe study noted that future research should focus on international tourism markets, which may have different social norms or cultural differences, providing a broader spectrum of the current study’s findings.

Supporting sustainable tourism

In a broader perspective, more than 70% of respondents indicated that they are willing to pay an additional fee to support long-term sustainable tourism in Hawaii. Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that it is vital for the tourism sector to promote environmentally friendly tourism practices in Hawaii.

Study co-authors include: Julius Ronzoni, instructor TIM; Cathrine Linnes of Østfold University College in Norway; Jeffrey Thomas Weinland of the University of Central Florida; and Joseph Lema of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Agrusa has integrated this research work into its fall 2022 TIM 313 Food Service Management course, and students are using the study to discover ways to support local farmers and locally grown food. Agrusa said this is an example of how academic research can complement classroom teaching and stimulate students’ enthusiasm for learning.

—By Marc Arakaki