EbeneInfo – CA – Increase in COVID-19 cases on mainland, new travel advisories expected to delay recovery of tourism in Hawaii


A surge in visitors to Hawaii for the holiday season doesn’t appear to be happening Relaxed guest at the Sheraton Waikiki infinity pool on Friday

While waiting for their parents to check in, 5-year-old Caitlin Chanthavong-Phungma hid in a sign as 4-year-old Tristan Inthasone ran past the hotel lobby Also pictured at right is Caitlin’s 3-year-old brother Connor

Paul and Jocelyn Nelson placed their drink orders with Kimiko Stever on Friday at RumFire ​​at Sheraton Waikiki The couple were from Portland

The robust holiday season that Hawaii’s visitor industry was anticipating is evaporating, pushing the start of a significant tourism recovery into the third quarter of next year

No one has a crystal ball, but the short-term future of the tourism industry has dimmed considerably due to a convergence of factors that materialized last week Even the prospect of COVID-19 vaccinations starting as early as next month is likely to cause an immediate drop in travel demand, as visitors may decide to wait until the vaccine is available, industry officials say

Gov David Ige’s announcement on Thursday that Hawaii will tighten entry requirements came at a time when demand for travel was already set to drop due to a warning from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Avoid Thanksgiving Travel

As of Tuesday, under the new policy, trans-Pacific passengers to Hawaii who cannot show an approved negative pre-departure test on arrival will not be able to bypass the 14-day quarantine, even after their test results become available

Add to that tighter lockdowns in major western states, Hawaii’s main tourist market and elsewhere

Worse yet, the latest state surveys of visitor satisfaction and resident sentiment show both groups less satisfied with tourism in Hawaii Visitors say the destination has not returned to its original level. ‘pre-pandemic activities and services, when the islands recorded a record 104 million visitors in 2019 And some Hawaii residents are unhappy that the tourism industry is trying to recover

Hotel occupancy rates statewide were actually worse in October, when the pre-arrival testing program began, than in September, according to STR’s latest report on the hotel

Data from Safe Travels Hawaii shows that arrivals coming for pleasure or vacation increased steadily from Tuesday, when 3,672 visitors were counted, through Saturday, when there were 8,322 arrivals for pleasure or vacation

But the Safe Travels website shows a steady drop in recorded trips from 17,624 in November 21 to only 4,583 on Thanksgiving Day Recorded travel count includes all future arrivals, not just visitors

« CDC warning will hurt Hawaii travel for the remainder of 2020, » said Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays « Americans will extrapolate from CDC announcement that they don’t want not just anyone traveling for 2020 We are planning trip cancellations to Hawaii for Thanksgiving and for the Christmas and New Years holidays « 

Richards said that even before the CDC warning, reservations for Hawaii this week were already slowing due to the surge in COVID-19 on the US continent

« January and February bookings in Hawaii are very low, the lowest I have seen in years, » said Richards

As bookings started to surge for March, Richards said the promise of a short-term vaccine could prompt some travelers to suspend first-quarter and possibly second-quarter bookings

Keith Vieira, director of KV & Associates, Hospitality Consulting, said there was a lot of hope around a vaccine “It could hurt short-term bookings, but it would help long-term bookings, and it is an exchange that I would do with pleasure « , he said

Vieira said Hawaii cannot control what happens on the mainland, but it could help support local tourism by making it easier for Kamaaina travelers to visit other islands. Intrastat travelers in all three Neighboring island counties are currently subject to the same testing rules as out-of-state arrivals

Vieira said the state could also incorporate more flexibility into its entry requirements for tourism, especially given the low level of travel-related COVID-19 cases in Hawaii Ige said Thursday that only about 44 travelers who tested before departure had tested positive on arrival or a day or two later

“It’s not a large number, but it’s enough to change the policy,” the governor said “We are adding this safety precaution now in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the world. ‘U mainlandS and the world « 

Ige said 94% of travelers participating in the Hawaii pre-trip test program arrive with their test in hand

Vieira said that Ige’s change in entry policy would weaken the demand for travel to Hawaii, as it made getting here much more complicated and risky. Through no fault of their own, some travelers who followed the Safe Travels Hawaii rules had to quarantine themselves pending overdue test results before departure

Vieira said the state should have provided for a cushion such as extending the testing window from 72 hours to five days

Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, wants the state to allow the small portion of visitors who arrive with pending tests to take tests at the Daniel K’s new mobile test lab Inouye International Airport, which can process up to 10,000 tests per day

« I understand the governor is trying to take extra precautions But there is no doubt that this will hurt travel to the islands I would advocate being as flexible as possible without compromising health and safety, » Hannemann said « If we were to use the mobile test site, they wouldn’t even have to leave the airport area »

Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said the carrier continued to believe that « we should consider travelers who do the right thing and who through no fault of their own do not receive their test results on time »

« This new restriction will create even more uncertainty for travelers and act as a deterrent to the right kind of visitors to our state – those who intend to test before travel, » he said. he declares

« The pre-trip testing program has allowed some economic recovery and, more importantly, has kept Hawaii’s infection rate at the lowest in the country and below levels seen before the launch of the exemption from quarantine in October 15 It would be a shame to undermine a program that works by creating uncertainty for travelers « 

Malithong Chanthavong-Phungma, a visitor from Las Vegas, said she and her sister are not afraid to come to Hawaii with their family of 10 because the number of COVID-19 « is much lower than ‘in Vegas, California, Florida or Texas »

Chanthavong-Phungma said the main factor determining the family’s travel schedule was to use airline vouchers issued after pandemic-related travel cancellations before they expired Even so, she said the family probably wouldn’t have risked coming to Hawaii if the state hadn’t had the opportunity to accept the late test results.

“We all passed our tests on time But I was really worried about it You want to make sure you don’t waste money or days,” she said. “If there was a lucky we couldn’t leave the room, we would have canceled our trip again We had already postponed it about three times, as pre-arrival tests kept getting pushed back « 

Even without the added complication, Chanthavong-Phungma was already wondering if the trip to Hawaii was worth it, given the scale of business closures

The family enjoyed their time on the North Shore of Oahu, especially their trip to the newly reopened Dole Plantation.However, Chanthavong-Phungma said she would still advise travelers to postpone their vacation to Hawaii

« I would say wait until you come unless you absolutely have to come, because you don’t have full access, » she said « We love Hawaii, but we won’t be back until everything is done. will not have been restored to normal and that there will be no pandemic « 

Hawaiians are largely reluctant to reopen the state to tourism Almost two-thirds of Hawaii residents strongly or somewhat agree that people outside the state should not visit Hawaii at the moment Meanwhile, 62% disagreed that state and county governments can safely reopen tourism and that the mandatory 14-day quarantine is indeed enforced.

The percentage of visitors to Hawaii from the US West who rated Hawaii as excellent fell from 884% in Q2 2019 to 667% in Q2 2020 During this same period, US satisfaction levels in the East fell from 914% to 701%

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EbeneInfo – CA – Increase in COVID-19 cases on the mainland, new travel advisories expected to delay recovery of tourism in Hawaii
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