Honolulu plays a key role in driving Hawaii’s economy, representing more than half of the state’s Gross Domestic Product. The total output of goods and services (gross metropolitan product) in 2016 was $59.6 billion, according to Forbes business magazine.
A variety of factors fuel this productivity. Honolulu is the main port of Hawaii, and serves as the governmental, tourism, military, business, shipping and educational hub of the islands.
Honolulu has no local sales tax, but the state’s 4 percent General Excise and Use Tax is slightly higher in Honolulu. In 2007, the Hawaii Legislature and City Council approved a 0.5 percent surcharge to pay for the $10 billion Honolulu Rail Project.
Hawaii’s primary economic driver is tourism, and Honolulu is no different. A total of 8.9 million visitors arrived by air to Oahu in calendar year 2016, up from the previous year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Of these visitors, about 74 percent stay exclusively on Oahu. The average daily census showed that about 88,000 visitors were on Oahu on any given day in 2010.
The federal government, which spent $20 billion in Hawaii in 2010, spent most of its money in Honolulu. The lion’s share of federal money poured into populous Honolulu, which received $17.4 billion last year.
People at the core of the city’s government and in the private sector work in different ways to influence Honolulu’s economy. Learn more on the key players page.