Last updated: 05:34 PM ET, Wed November 06 2013

Hawaii May See Big Tourism Gains Due to Marriage Equality, Study Says

Destination & Tourism Mimi Kmet July 28, 2013

Hawaii May See Big Tourism Gains Due to Marriage Equality, Study Says

Hawaii may see big gains in tourism spending if same-sex marriage is legalized in that state, according to an economic analysis released in February from the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization (UHERO). Those gains, which total an estimated $217 million from 2014 through 2016, would come from gay couples traveling to Hawaii for destination weddings and honeymoons, as well as from their wedding guests.

In addition, since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and sent California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban back to a lower court, after which California reinstated same-sex marriages, Hawaii’s prospects for tourism gains look even rosier — if Hawaii’s state legislature enacts legislation allowing same-sex marriages to begin in fall 2013 or early in 2014, according to a recently releases update of the study.

“Marriage equality in California increases the proportion of Hawaii’s visitors from states with marriage equality from 18 percent to 54 percent,” the update stated. “We estimate $166 million in additional spending over the 2014-2016 period from marriages and honeymoons of same-sex couples visiting from states with marriage equality.”

Moreover, state and local excise taxes are projected to increase by an estimated $10.2 million over that three-year period, according to the update.

Currently, Hawaii allows civil unions of same-sex couples but has a statutory ban on same-sex-marriages. Same-sex marriage proponents in the state have been advocating for a law that goes beyond the legalization of civil unions, but the legislature has not passed such a law yet. The legislature reconvenes its regular session in January, and it has not indicated that it would hold a special session before than to take up the matter.