Hawaii Officials Optimistic About First Days of Tourism Reopening

On the first day of Hawaii’s less restrictive COVID-19 testing program, the state’s airports were overwhelmed with more than 10,000 visitors in a single day.

And that’s a good thing.

Because you can always hire more staff, but you can’t pull in the tourist numbers like Hawaii is used to, and certainly hasn’t experienced over the last seven months since the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

That has made officials in the Islands optimistic for a return to normal.

“I think we’re gonna see a daily average of roughly at around 5,000. I think it will even itself out. I think in the early days you have this pent-up demand,” Hawaii Tourism Association President and CEO John De Fries told KHON.

In order to boost tourism, Hawaii decided to end its mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors and instead has partnered with several airlines to do virus screenings. Travellers who provide written confirmation from a state-approved COVID-19 testing partner of a negative result from a test administered within 72 hours of the final leg of departure are now allowed to bypass the quarantine, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The head of the hotel industry says that the hotels operating now have been dealing with quarantine rules since they began, so the hotels are prepared.

“So they were very used to the quarantine policy, how to go forward and execute that, as well as the cooperation that’s needed with law enforcement officials for anyone that wants to observe the quarantine rules,” said Mufi Hannemann, who is the president of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

Hannemann said that the hotels are at about 20 percent occupancy right now.

All passengers must also take a post-arrival test once in Hawaii, and on the first day of reopening, only one traveller tested positive for COVID-19, Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim said.

Testing got backed up at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport.

“Every island was caught off guard by the number of people who came in — not only by the number (of passengers), but by the airlines switching the number of flights and their schedules. Flights were coming in belly-to-belly,” Kim said.

But it’s certainly an issue that can be fixed.

“In spite of the fact that we had thousands more (visitors) than we expected, we thought the (state’s) processing at the airport went well,” Gov. David Ige said. “We were prepared. We had physical distancing markers, and we had adequate space to work through to keep the passenger flow. And we (worked) through the issues that came up upon arrival. So overall, I thought it went well for the first day.”

Source: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/destinations/hawaii-officials-optimistic-about-first-days-of-tourism-reopening.html

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