HONOLULU (AP) — New federal rules for international travelers are expected to help Hawaii’s crippled tourism industry.
The state’s international market has been almost non-existent since the pandemic halted travel last year.
Last week, the White House announced a relaxation of rules that previously barred some foreign travelers from coming to the United States. Now foreign visitors can come if they can present proof of vaccination and produce a negative COVID-19 test.
US citizens and residents who are not vaccinated can also travel to the United States, but they must test themselves twice – once before travel and once after arrival.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that the changes could bring back international travel, which is still down 97% from before the pandemic.
Currently, Hawaii only requires proof of vaccination or one pre-flight test for travelers from the mainland. The state had also allowed travel with the same rules from certain countries, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Tahiti and the Philippines.
For Japanese travelers, a major component of Hawaii’s tourism industry, some view the new rules as more restrictive.
Dave Erdman, president of a Pacific marketing firm, said Japanese media described the new rules as a tightening of restrictions as they add another step by now requiring vaccinations for entry.
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