Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost in Hawaii’s tourism industry, but employees of the state agency responsible for managing “tourism for the benefit of the Hawaiian Islands” and its main marketing contractor have not not been affected.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority employs 32 full-time people and has a payroll of nearly $2.8 million, according to state records. None of these workers have been fired.
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, HTA’s destination distributor for North America, also did not cut any jobs. HVCB did not respond to Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s request for salary costs and the number of employees.
Many tasks for HTA and HVCB have changed significantly during the COVID-19 crisis as they help the state lock down tourism and provide support to a beleaguered visitor industry.
Marisa Yamane, spokesperson for HTA, said: “All staff members are still working full-time, either in the department’s operations center or on their computers at home, or making phone calls to quarantined visitors. .”
All travelers arriving in Hawaii since March 26 must self-quarantine for 14 days.
John Monahan, President and CEO of HVCB, said: “HVCB staff are still working, either at the HTA Emergency Operations Center, from our office or remotely from their homes via computer and phone on emergency missions. emergency communication and HTA information collection (COVID-19). .”
Monahan said the COVID-19 missions her staff are handling include “administration and staffing for all islands of initial and follow-up 14-day visitor quarantine appeals and the Hotels for Heroes program to provide a accommodation for key (COVID-19) response personnel.
Hotels for Heroes is a new initiative launched by the HTA, HVCB and the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. The program provides free hotel rooms to first responders and healthcare workers who want to avoid putting their families at risk or who need accommodation closer to where they work for long periods of time . It also helps participating hotels by reimbursing them $85 per night per room and creating an opportunity to restore hours for some workers. HVCB coordinates bookings through a newly created housing office.
Economists had expected at the start of the year that tourism in Hawaii would exceed last year’s 10.4 million visitor arrivals. Now, the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization projects a 41% year-over-year drop. For the week ended Wednesday, only 1,187 visitors had entered the state on trans-Pacific flights, which were subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for passengers.
HTA, which was established in 1998 to support the tourism industry, received $79 million from the state legislature for fiscal year 2020, which ends in July. Funding comes from the collection of taxes on state transient accommodation.
Kekoa McClellan, Hawaiian market representative for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said based on current occupancy estimates, nearly 3.9 million hospitality-related jobs nationwide are expected to be cut, which will cost laid-off and furloughed hotel workers more than $2.4 billion. income for each week of losses.
“Over 57,000…lost jobs are right here in Hawaii,” McClellan said.