Posted on Oct 11, 2019 in International Student Attraction, News

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

The Economic Impact of International Students in Hawaii – 2019 Update report shows that the direct spending by foreign students in Hawaii 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 Hawaii’s culture with the students and they, in turn, teach us about their culture. These experiences will positively change the trajectory of Hawaii’s future,” said Gov. David Y. Ige.

According to Mike McCartney, director of DBEDT, “International study exchange programs not only contribute to Hawaii’s economic growth but its continued ability to attract foreign students and investments. Hawaii’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 Hawaii must continue its marketing and promotional efforts.”

The Study Hawaii consortium ( of 31 schools in Hawaii is the association promoting the industry and actively recruiting international students.

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 Hawaii 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.

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

Download the full 2019 Updated Foreign Student Report.


About the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT)

DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawaii economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawaii’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation sector job growth.

Media Contacts

Dr. Eugene Tian
Research and Economic Analysis Division
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism  
(808) 586-2470

Dennis Ling
Business Development and Support Division
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism  
(808) 587-2755