Tourism In Hawaii Climbing Out Of Pit Of Disaster

Waikiki- tourism in Hawaii
Waikiki Beach Honolulu Hawaii Skyline

Hawaiian Economy Hammered By Pandemic

2020 started with a bang in Hawaii. The economy was booming in every which way. Tourism in Hawaii was better than it has been in years. Since the economic downturn of 2008 the economy has been getting better year after year. The unemployment rate was the lowest in the nation at 2.6% in January. Fast forward 7 months and Hawaii’s unemployment rate shot to about 23%, the 3rd highest in the nation due to the pandemic’s effect on Hawaii’s tourism reliant economy.

Tourism In Hawaii Quarantine

Since the beginning of the pandemic in Hawaii back in March 2020. The economy has been shutdown due to the effects of the pandemic and the states measures to prevent the Coronavirus from catching fire and spreading in Hawaii. A stay at home order was issued and schools were shut down. Non- essential businesses were shut down and people were told to stay at home unless it was absolutely necessary to leave.

If it was necessary for you to leave for necessities, like shopping for food or going to the doctor’s. You were told to leave alone unless you had children under your care. Wearing face masks were advised in the beginning but are now mandatory in Hawaii. If you were found breaking the stay at home order you were subject to a fine or possible arrest.

Visitors were subject to a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arriving in Hawaii. They would need to register at the airport and go directly to their reported hotels. No rental cars were available so they would have to catch a taxi or an Uber to get to their hotels. Some hotels had shuttles available. But at this point most hotels were either closed or running on a skeleton crew.

Once arriving at the hotel. You would need to have your food ordered online and delivered. You were not to leave your room at all for 14 days unless of course there was an emergency. If caught breaking the quarantine you would be arrested and be forced to end your stay and leave the state.

Pre- Travel Testing Program Opening Up Tourism In Hawaii

On October 15, 2020 the State Of Hawaii started the Safe Travels Hawaii Program. The program offers visitors and returning residents the opportunity to skip the required 14 day quarantine. If they tested negative on a qualified Covid- 19 test within 72 hours of their flight to Hawaii. The state of Hawai‘i will ONLY accept a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). From a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab test results from trusted testing and travel partnerships.

The Hawaii Safe Travels Pre- Testing program is only available to travelers from the United States and Japan. At this time, there are no other entry options available for international travel. Although, the tourism market in Hawaii is starting to open up. Many businesses such as restaurants, activities that cater to tourists and fitness centers are still closed or have closed for good. Unfortunately, many businesses could not survive the economic impact of the effects from the pandemic.

What To Remember Once You Are Here In Hawaii

Hawaii takes the Covid- 19 pandemic seriously. When you are here, there are things you need to remember to have a safe and enjoyable vacation.

  1. You must wear a Face Mask. The wearing of a Face mask is required in Hawaii for everyone over the age of 5 in the general public areas where a 6 feet distance away from someone not in your group or household cannot be maintained. Unless, you are eating/ drinking or have a medical condition that prevents you from doing so. This includes any common areas at your vacation condo, stores, beaches etc. Businesses have the right to refuse service to you if you are not wearing a mask. Refusal to abide to the mask mandate can lead to your arrest and or a fine. As well as an abrupt end to your stay.
  2. Social distancing is recommended in all public areas of Hawaii. It is recommended to keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet away from anyone not in your household or group.
  3. Frequent hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer is recommended in all eating establishments or before eating in general. On the Big Island of Hawaii, hand sanitizing is required in all restaurants upon entry. Hand sanitizing stations are set up for customers to utilize. Check out the Hawaii Tourism Authority for more helpful Hawaii tourist information.

Hotels Starting To Reopen

Since the start of the Pre- travel testing program on October 15, 2020. Visitor arrivals have increased by the end of October to about 7000 arrivals per day. That’s up from around 2000 visitor arrivals per day, before the Safe Travels Program started. Although, nowhere near the 30,000 visitor arrivals per day in October 2019. Nonetheless, the industry overall is starting to trickle back slowly.


With the start of the holiday season approaching, the hope is that tourism in Hawaii will increase. The holidays usually bring a surge of visitors in the islands. The economy could use the boost in tourism. Although, it’s not the best time to visit with all the effects of the pandemic. Hawaii is still a top destination.

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