After seven months of shutting down tourism, the state is finally ready to reopen the doors.
But what does that mean? Will there be a flood of 2019-style visitors or just a trickle when the pre-arrival testing program on October 15 begins?
Before COVID-19, an average of around 29,000 passengers arrived each day, most of them visitors. Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, said he expects tourism to Hawaii restarts with about 5,000 to 8,000 visitors a day once the test program before arrival will allow some transpacific travelers to circumvent the state’s mandatory 14 days. self-quarantine.
Green expects hotel room bookings to recover this month at 19% of October 2019. In November, it provides that hotel reservations will account for 32% of the Year Reservations last, about 41% in December and January and nearly 46% in February.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, John from Fries, who took office on September 16, said he expects tourism to Hawaii to begin to develop from a base of 5,000 visitors per day.
“Oct. 15 brings a lot of expectations, but the truth is that we are about to enter a new learning curve which is vertical – and every day we will have to make improvements,” said De Fries in An interview Friday. “There is a feeling of fear. Unlike the crises of the past, where we touch a floor, we go out and we go back. We have not touched the ground yet. We are always in free fall.
Chris Kam, President and Director of Omnitrak’s exploitation, said the last national study on the September travel demand does not reach anything good for a rapid recovery of tourism in Hawaii.
“In the short term, the number of people with travel projects (by car or plane) over the next six months has fallen to the lowest level since March when we started asking the question,” said Kam. “Only 33% of respondents said they had travel plans in the next six months, compared to 50% in early March and 39% in July.”
The news that President Donald Trump and the first Lady Melania Trump were diagnosed with CIVID-19 could affect reservations unless they recover quickly, “said Kam. Also, it’s likely disadvantageous that parts of the United States and the rest of the world have started to see outbreaks of COVID-19 again, Kam said.
Uncertainty over personal finances and elections could also dampen demand, he said. Visitors will not feel that they can book with confidence as long as they will not know exactly what they will have to do to get out of the quarantine and what they can do during their holidays, “said Kam. Also, some may just be waiting for a vaccine or other new developments, he said.
Looking further ahead, Kam said American travelers seemed more optimistic about planning their trip, with 41% saying they were likely to travel by car in the next 12 months. That number was only 19% when the trip was by plane, but Kam said that was an increase from 16% in July and August.
Up to 45% of U.S. travelers surveyed by OmniTrak in September said they felt it was less safe to travel than it was a year ago, Kam said. Some 37% said they felt their personal financial situation was less conducive to travel than a year ago, he said.
Another looming issue, particularly on Oahu, is any government restrictions that could interfere with travel demand and visitor industry operations.
Jack Richards, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pleasant Holidays, one of Hawaii’s largest wholesale travel vendors, said the continuation of the debate and the lack of clarity were undergone at the resumption of tourism in Hawaii. However, Richards said demand had started to grow since Ige proclaimed the official start of a pre-arrival testing program on October 15.
“The holiday season was non-existent two weeks ago, now it’s picking up,” Richards said.
Pleasant Holidays has 208 hotel partners in Hawaii, and Richards predicts that by the end of October, 60% will have reopened in Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the island of Hawaii and Lanai. In November, Richards said 89% of Pleasant hotel partners in Hawaii said they plan to reopen and by December, 96% are expected to be operational.
Richards stated that the reputed demand for Hawaii is strong, but that it follows Mexico, where there is no test requirement and where visitors have a better understanding of what they can expect.
From Fries, which is the first Native Hawaiian at the head of HTA, said he invoked the cultural principle of Malama, which means taking care, as an organizing principle for “guiding us through this chaos”.
“For those who are pro-business, we will feel like we are moving too slowly. And for those who are pro-community and pro-health, they’re going to feel like we’re moving too fast,” he said. “Disagreements will arise, but when the decision will be made, those of us who occupy management positions must find their role in the proclamation … because at that time, for me at least, the debate is over and it’s time to put together an action sequence.”
From Fries said the upcoming HTA marketing campaigns will aim to ensure that visitors and residents understand that they have Kuleana (responsibility) to protect each other and Hawaii. A Malama Hawaii promotion, with a host of private partners, will give visitors the chance to stay a free night if they engage in a volunteer project to help regenerate Hawaii’s natural beauty and culture.
De Fries said everyone will be asked to do their part to practice social distancing, wear masks and wash their hands.
“We have to malama the visitor and in turn we have to educate the visitor on how to malama us. I fear that if we don’t adopt this malama mindset, we will be open for a month and closed for two weeks. We are going to be open for six weeks and we are going to be closed for three weeks,” he said. “It won’t work and it will actually hurt all the good we’re trying to build as a community. Trust is the new currency we need to earn and trade.
Prior to COVID-19, De Fries said HTA had evolved from a primarily tourism marketing agency to a tourism management agency. He said the current crisis has not changed that focus or HTA’s four pillars, which are natural resources, Hawaiian culture, community and brand marketing. Hawaii welcomed a record 10.4 million visitors last year.
“On the way to 10.4 million visitors, we’ve created a few hotspots where visitor and resident are starting to collide,” De Fries said. “Right now there is a very happy pillar – natural resources.”
Beaches, trails and other natural environments have benefited from the lack of tourists this year.
HTA and the community, including business owners, are now grappling with contrasting issues like what to do with tourism infrastructure that is too big for the number of arrivals and how to get more industry people back to work .
“If I own a 100-room hotel on Kuhio Avenue, I might think about turning it into affordable housing or something and find a grant to carry me for the next five to eight years,” De Fries said, adding that it’s okay it will take Hawaii a while to recover whether the magic number is seven million or 12 million arrivals.
De Fries said the state’s tourism industry is working with the community to create destination management action plans to find solutions to these and other dilemmas like where tourist arrivals should be. capped.
“The fact that the whole engine has been turned off has created this opportunity for communities to start organizing, finding their voice and starting to get defining and planning efforts to define what the future of tourism will look like. “, did he declare. “Frankly, I have confidence in their abilities.”