There is no more Aloha for Hawaii’s visitors. A Hui Hou Kākou meaning Until We Meet Again is the message to our visitors. Hawaii Tourism today said farewell to the visitor’s industry.
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Until we meet again. Everyone prays this will be soon, very soon, very – very soon.
Hawaii not only loves to share the Aloha Spirit with visitors. Hawai breathes tourism, and regardless if someone is employed in the travel and tourism industry, the economy depends on this industry to prosper.
Driving through Waikiki today and taking a walk at the usually busy Ala Moana Shopping Center is an eyeopening walk of a reality many did not really take for real until today. Many Target shelves are empty, Starbucks and 90% of the restaurants are closed.
Beaches are deserted, shops and restaurants in Waikiki closed. Just a month Waikiki like many other tourism hotspots in the State was buzzing with visitors, today Waikiki feels like a ghost-town with a police car driving down Kalakaua avenue once in a while.
The 10% of the restaurants still open are only allowed to fill take out orders. “Thanks for your support”, said the owner of Mimi’s kitchen to Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews with tears in her eyes. Mimi’s kitchen is family owned and operated.
Kenneth Usamanont, his mother and wife Michelle Maldonado worked tirelessly 7 days a week and 12 or more hours a day. They did this for 23 years to build Rajanee Thai Haleiwa. This publisher had been a frequent guest there since the first day the small family restaurant opened.
Dale Evans owns Charley’s Taxi. She is a fighter and is now facing the biggest crisis for her company ever. Dale even made Uber speechless and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate the finest and safest taxi company in the State.
Today a family visiting from Illinois was attacked by a man today, who accused them of trying to spread coronavirus.
The family took advantage of low airfares. They decided last minute to go on this once in a lifetime trip to Hawaii before the quarantine rule became low. They said, they could have never afforded this vacation in normal times.
As Hawaii changed from a Kingdom to a Territory to a State in on August 21, 1959, so too did the dominant industries change. Being a primarily agricultural land, producing around 80 percent of the world’s pineapples in the 1960s, the addition of Pan Am’s flight route to Hawaii rapidly increased the number of visitors going to the islands. The years following statehood led to more than double the number of passengers arriving at Honolulu airport.
As this trend continues to increase, Hawaii’s economy has become heavily dependent on the tourism industry. Although the economy has seen significant growth with the addition of this industry, some researchers believe this will leave Hawaii susceptible to external economic forces. Some examples of these are economic recession, airline strikes, or varying fuel prices which could devastate the local economy. The devastating national economic recession of 2008, hit Hawaii’s tourism industry hard. In 2008, hotel occupancy dropped to 60 percent, a level not seen since the terrorist attacks in 2001.
As the economy has returned to normal levels, the tourism industry has continued to grow in Hawaii with the majority of tourists visiting Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the big island of Hawaii.
Job creation is another benefit of tourism to the islands. In 2017, reports say 204,000 jobs were directly related to tourism. This is out of 1,4 million people living in Hawaii. This led to $16.78 billion in visitor spending with $1.96 billion generated in tax revenue in that year alone. Resorts and the airline business are the primary benefactors of this increase in tourism.
In the meantime, many hotels on the islands are closing, including the famous Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki. Today Governor Ige didn’t rule out homeless people may settle into luxury hotels in Waikiki.
Coronavirus forced Governor Ige to shipwreck the travel and tourism industry in Hawaii, the State he loves. The governor and his team did this with the hope it will save lives and it will eventually save the visitors industry in the long run.
The Center for Disease Control confirmed today in a press conference that there is no evidence coronavirus is widespread in Hawaii yet. This assumption was based on 4200 random COVID19 tests that were conducted in the State.
Considering the fragile environment of the islands a two-week self-quarantine may not be enough to protect. eTurboNews suggested to Governor Ige today to follow the Nepal model and require a certificate of health before anyone would be allowed to board a flight to any airport in Hawaii. This should be in addition to the 14-day quarantine rule and shelter in place order. Such regulation could only be made by Federal Authorities. The Governor said:” My order for quarantine and stay home is the strongest measure a Governor can make.”
In the meantime, thousands are filing for unemployment in Hawaii and the future for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai and the Island of Hawaii is a big question mark.
Environmental groups no longer talk about over-tourism. Last week this publisher was able to see Kauai from Oahu’s Northshore. It was the first time in 30 years. Clear air and no car pollution made it possible.
eTurboNews is among the many small businesses now fighting for survival – and we know it’s not just us. The entire world is suffering, and we all have to fight this war together. This war may be a chance for world peace- finally.
Today the Hawaii Tourism Authority issued a press release about the decline in visitors count after Hawaii Governor Ige urged visitors to no longer travel to Hawaii, and for Kamaainas (locals) to come home. This was enforced 3 days ago with a stay home order that will start Midnight today (Wednesday, March 25) Anyone still arriving in Hawaii will have to stay in self-quarantine either in a hotel room or at home.”
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