Categorized | Business, Education

International students add $447M to Hawaii’s economy


HONOLULU – The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released a report today which analyzes the impact of international students on Hawai‘i’s economy.

The Economic Impact of International Students in Hawai‘i – 2019 Update report shows that the direct spending by foreign students in Hawai‘i was $216.9 million for calendar year 2018. This estimate includes the total living expenses and institutional tuition and fees.

Including the ripple effects, the total economic impacts of international students are the following:

  • $446.7 million in economic output generated, including direct, indirect, and induced effects
  • $34.3 million in state taxes generated
  • $197.3 million in household income generated
  • 4,576 jobs supported by international student spending

“The benefits international students contribute to our state go far beyond their direct and indirect spending. Their presence in our schools promotes mutual understanding and global collaboration and is essential to building bridges that connect future world leaders. We are able to share Hawai‘i’s culture with the students and they, in turn, teach us about their culture. These experiences will positively change the trajectory of Hawai‘i’s future,” said Gov. David Y. Ige.

According to Mike McCartney, director of DBEDT, “International study exchange programs not only contribute to Hawai‘i’s economic growth but its continued ability to attract foreign students and investments. Hawai‘i’s appeal as a place that embraces many different cultures remains one of our greatest assets.”

Dennis Ling, administrator for BDSD, which leads the program for international student exchanges, added, “Our department will continue to work with our education partners to attract more foreign students to our classrooms. The findings indicate the fierce competition for international students and that Hawai‘i must continue its marketing and promotional efforts.”

The Study Hawai‘i consortium (studyhawai‘ of 31 schools in Hawai‘i is the association promoting the industry and actively recruiting internationalstudents.

Two programs in DBEDT worked in partnership to complete the study. The Research and Economic Analysis Division (READ) made the estimates and prepared the report, while the Business Development & Support Division (BDSD) led the state’s efforts for international student exchange.

A total of 41 Hawai‘i educational institutions responded to the DBEDT 2019 International Education Survey. The responding institutions for the survey reported a total of 14,300 international students, including both long-term students and short-term students, such as those that came to attend English language training programs in calendar year 2018.

Hawai‘i hosted international students from 128 countries from all over the globe. Japan remains the top country of origin for Hawai‘i’s international students, followed by South Korea and China.

The report is available at:

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