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Hawaii governor says now not a good time to visit so “Lei Off”!

August 30, 2021 Coronavirus (Covid-19), Headline News No Comments
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Hawaii Governor David Ige has asked asked visitors and residents to reduce travel to the islands while the state struggles to control COVID-19 as the highly contagious delta variant spreads in the community.

The Travel Industry Today report says while stopping short of a mandate, Gov. David Ige wants travel limited to essential business only through the end of October.

He said, “Our hospitals are reaching capacity and our ICUs are filling up”, adding, “Now is not a good time to travel to Hawaii,” and, “It will take six to seven weeks to see a significant change in the number of COVID cases”, and, “It is a risky time to be travelling right now”, adding, Everyone, residents and visitors alike, should reduce travel to essential business activities only.”

With vaccines available and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying fully vaccinated people can travel domestically, Ige said it’s a different time now than last year when strict travel rules that required quarantining essentially shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry.

Ige added, “Last year in March, when I first asked for visitors to postpone travel to the islands, we saw a 60% reduction in the traffic to Hawaii,” adding, “And then certainly, ordering the mandatory quarantine of all incoming visitors reduced travel to the islands by 99.5%, essentially 100% of travellers.”

Ige said he supports Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s announcement to restrict indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 and he’s also urging people to get vaccinated.

John De Fries, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, noted that even though visitor arrivals overall are already starting to decline, as is historically the case in the fall, visitors should consider postponing their travels to Hawaii, adding, “Our community, residents and the visitor industry, are responsible for working together to address this crisis,” and  “As such, we are strongly advising visitors that now is not the right time to travel, and they should postpone their trips through the end of October.”

Dr. Elizabeth Char, director of the Department of Health, emphasized the urgency of the current situation, saying, “The surge of COVID cases is mainly due to community spread, followed by residents flying to hotspot areas abroad and bringing COVID back into their households and community,” adding, “If things do not change, our health care systems will be crippled and those needing medical care for all types of diseases, injuries and conditions, including our visitors, may find it difficult to get the treatment they need right away.”

Not everyone in Hawaii’s tourism industry, however, is onboard with the directive, especially after the economy rebounded with eased restrictions earlier this summer, with Jack Richards, president and CEO of local travel agency Pleasant saying, “I’ve got thousands of people booked to come between now and 2022” and “I’m certainly not going to contact them and say, ‘Don’t go.’”,

A report from Travel Industry Today by John Alwyn-Jones, Special Correspondent Travel and Tourism, Global Travel Media.

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