HONOLULU (KITV4) — With fewer restrictions on travel to Hawaii, tourism leaders said there’s still a long way to go in rebuilding the state’s number one industry.
“International travel has not returned at all. Big, large scale gatherings, convention type meetings have not returned,” said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “So we still have miles and miles to go before we get to that point.”
And that might take a little longer.
Surging cases elsewhere in the world are concerning as the state finally lifts COVID-19 restrictions. The tourism industry heavily relies on visitors from Asia — and some parts are now seeing a spike in cases.
“The last thing that we want to happen is to go back because we can’t handle what’s happening externally, that it might find it’s way to Hawaii,” he added.
Epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller adds that he’s concerned cases here will rise as people abandon precautions.
“People are tired of all these restrictions and they want to get back to normal and throw it all away,” Miller said. “We’re just in between sets. Just like the surfers, we’re in between sets.”
Hannemann points out there’s no more federal stimulus money coming to the islands so residents must be good neighbors.
“We’re preaching the same thing each and every day: do not let down your guard,” Hannemann said.
That means despite mask and travel restrictions soon ending, people must still be mindful the virus is still actively infecting its next host.
Produced in partnership with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.