Hawaii to Reopen in July
Tourism is a big source of income for the state of Hawaii. Close to 10 million visitors fly to the Hawaiian islands annually, and they provide $16 billion to local business. Tourism makes up 23% of the state’s economy, and it has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Most of Hawaii’s 242,000 unemployed workers are also tied to the tourism industry.
But Hawaii has seen some encouraging numbers is recent days and officials are optimistic it could safely open up. Thursday was the fourth consecutive day with no new reported coronavirus cases statewide. Lt. Gov. Josh Green says he hopes to reopen the state’s tourism industry by July.
“By having people tested beforehand, it reduces the risk very greatly on all those good people that are going to be taking care of the tourists,” Green told Hawaii News Now. Green says the state will likely require a negative COVID-19 test from any passenger before arriving in Hawaii.
He added that travelers from Japan, New Zealand and Australia should be allowed first. “Where they have extremely low rates of COVID,” Green said. “It’s more possible for us to have comprehensive negotiated agreements with a country ironically than with the mainland … “Japan is 20-percent of all our travelers but 30-percent of all our economic activity from tourism. So, in some ways, it’s the perfect place to start.”
Grim 2020 Outlook
The near future still looks grim for Hawaii tourism. The total number of visitors this year is expected to top out at 3.5 million, a sharp 65% decrease from recent years. Additionally, only about 35% of unemployed travel industry workers will likely return to their jobs this year.