It doesn’t appear that there will be a huge surge in visitors to Hawaii for the holiday season. On Friday, a guest relaxed in the infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki.
While 5-year-old Caitlin Chanthavong-Phungma was waiting for her parents to check in, she was hiding in a sign when 4-year-old Tristan Inthasone ran past in the hotel lobby. On the right is Caitlin’s 3-year-old brother Connor.
Paul and Jocelyn Nelson placed their drinks orders with Kimiko Stever on Friday in the RumFire of the Sheraton Waikiki. The couple were visiting from Portland.
The robust holiday season that awaited Hawaii’s visitor industry is fading, forcing the beginning of a significant tourism rebound into the third quarter of next year.
Nobody has a crystal ball, but the near-term future of the visitor industry has deteriorated dramatically due to the convergence of factors that occurred last week. Even the prospect of COVID-19 vaccinations starting as early as next month is likely to result in an immediate drop in travel requirements as visitors may wait for the vaccine to become available, industry officials said.
Gov. . David Ige’s announcement on Thursday that Hawaii would tighten its entry requirements came at a time when a warning from the U was already expected to reduce travel requirements. S.. . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Avoid Thanksgiving Travel.
Starting Tuesday, transpacific passengers to Hawaii who are unable to present an approved pre-departure negative test upon arrival will no longer be able to bypass the 14-day quarantine even if their test results are available.
In addition, there are stricter lockdowns in major western states, the top tourism market for Hawaii and elsewhere.
Worse, recent visitor satisfaction and resident sentiment surveys show that both groups are less satisfied with tourism in Hawaii. Visitors say the destination did not return to pre-pandemic levels of activities and services when the islands posted a record 10. 4 million visitors in 2019. And some Hawaiian residents are unhappy that the visitor industry is trying to recover.
According to STR’s latest hotel report, when the pre-arrival testing program began in October, nationwide hotel occupancy was actually worse than it was in September.
Data from Safe Travels Hawaii shows arrivals for pleasure or vacation steadily increased from Tuesday when Nov.. 672 visitors were counted until Saturday 8. 322 arrivals for pleasure or vacation came.
However, the Safe Travels website shows a steady decline in registered trips from 17. 624 on Nov.. . 21 to only 4. 583 on Thanksgiving Day. The number of trips registered includes all future arrivals, not just visitors.
« The CDC warning will affect travel to Hawaii for the remainder of 2020, » said Jack Richards, President and CEO of Pleasant Holidays. « Americans are going to extrapolate from the CDC announcement that they don’t want anyone to travel for 2020. We expect cancellations for trips to Hawaii for Thanksgiving Day, as well as for the Christmas and New Years holidays. ”
Richards said bookings to Hawaii were slowing this week ahead of the CDC warning due to the spike in COVID-19 on the U.. S.. . Mainland.
« January and February bookings for Hawaii are very low, the lowest I’ve seen in years, » said Richards.
As bookings began to surge for March, Richards said the promise of a vaccine in a short time could cause some travelers to postpone bookings in the first and possibly second quarters.
Keith Vieira, director of KV & Associates, Hospitality Consulting, said there is much hope for a vaccine. « It might hurt short-term bookings, but it would help long-term bookings, and that’s a deal I’d love to make, » he said.
Vieira said Hawaii has no control over what happens on the mainland, but it could support local tourism by making it easier for Kamaaina travelers to visit other islands. Intrastatic travelers to the three neighboring island districts are currently subject to the same test rules as arrivals outside of the state.
Vieira said the state could also make its entry requirements for tourism more flexible, especially given the low number of travel-related COVID-19 cases in Hawaii. Ige said Thursday that only about 44 travelers who took the pre-arrival test before leaving got a positive test result on arrival or a day or two later.
« It’s not a large number, but it is enough to change the policy, » said the governor. “We are now adding this safety precaution in response to the dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the continental U.. S.. . and all over the world. ”
According to Ige, 94% of travelers taking the Hawaii Pre-Travel Testing Program arrive with their test in hand.
Vieira said Ige’s change in immigration regulations will reduce the demand for travel to Hawaii as it makes getting there far more complicated and risky. Through no fault of their own, some travelers who followed Safe Travels Hawaii rules had to be quarantined while waiting for overdue pre-departure test results.
Vieira said the state should have put in a pillow, for example extending the test window from 72 hours to five days.
Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, would like the state to give the small portion of visitors who arrive with pending tests the opportunity to test in the new mobile test laboratory at Daniel K.. Inouye International Airport, which is up to 10. Can handle 000 tests per day.
“I appreciate the governor trying to take extra precautions. However, there is no question that this will affect travel to the islands. I would advocate that we be as flexible as possible without compromising health and safety, ”said Hannemann. « 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 airline continues to believe that “consideration should be given to those travelers who are doing the right thing and who through no fault of their own do not receive their test results on time. ”
« This new restriction will add even more insecurity for travelers and deter the right kind of visitors to our state – those who want to have pre-travel testing, » he said.
« The pre-trip testing program has allowed some economic recovery and, more importantly, has kept the infection rate in Hawaii the lowest in the country and below pre-quarantine levels in October. 15th. It would be a shame to undermine a working program by creating insecurity for travelers. ”
Las Vegas visitor Malithong Chanthavong-Phungma said she and her sister weren’t afraid to come to Hawaii with their family of 10 because COVID-19 numbers are much lower than in Vegas, California, Florida or Texas. ”
Chanthavong-Phungma said the main driver behind family travel timing is the use of airline vouchers issued after pandemic-related travel cancellations before they expire. Even so, she said the family probably wouldn’t have risked coming to Hawaii if the state hadn’t had an opportunity to accept late test results.
« We received all of our tests on time. But I was really worried about it. You want to make sure you don’t lose money or days, ”she said. « If there had been a chance that we couldn’t leave the room, we would have canceled our trip again. We had already postponed it three times as the pre-arrival tests kept being pushed back. ”
Even without the additional complications, Chanthavong-Phungma asked whether the trip to Hawaii was worth it, given the scale of the business closings.
The family enjoyed their time on the north coast of Oahu, especially their trip to the newly opened Dole Plantation. However, Chanthavong-Phungma said she would still advise travelers to postpone vacation to Hawaii.
« I would say wait until you have to come because you don’t have full access, » she said. « We love Hawaii, but we won’t be back until everything is back to normal and there is no pandemic. ”
Hawaii residents are largely reluctant to reopen the state to tourism. Nearly two-thirds of Hawaiian residents agree that people from outside the state of Hawaii shouldn’t visit at this time. Meanwhile, 62% disagreed that state and county governments can safely reopen tourism and that the 14-day quarantine regime is effectively enforced.
The percentage of US visitors to Hawaii. S.. . West, who rated Hawaii excellent, dropped from 88. 4% in the second quarter of 2019 to 66. 7% in the second quarter of 2020. During the same period, U. . S.. . Satisfaction in the east fell from 91. 4% to 70. 1%.
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