Hawaii reopened to visitors from the mainland in October, but visiting isn’t as simple as booking a hotel for guests and buying plane tickets to the islands.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, traveling isn’t as easy as it used to be and won’t be for a long time. In fact, the CDC is currently advising Americans not to travel due to an increase in new cases in the United States.
For many clients, however, there is pandemic fatigue and a need to get away from all the stressors of home life, even if there is risk, and now Hawaii is an option for them.
Travelers wishing to travel to the Islands for vacation or for a winter break should first ensure that they have a negative COVID-19 test result.
These tests should be on hand before leaving for Hawaii. Results must be uploaded to Hawaii’s Safe Travels system prior to departure. Alternatively, visitors can bring a hard copy of their results to show authorities when they land. For added security, the Hawaii Tourism Authority advises all visitors to have a hard copy handy.
Travelers who do not test negative will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, no exceptions. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, post-arrival testing and results will also not be accepted once a traveler has arrived in Hawaii.
Some airports and airlines have simplified this for travellers, offering on-site testing or drive-through testing locations. However, an increase in the number of cases has made the supplies needed for testing more difficult to obtain and this could create delays.
Right now, healthcare providers are under such strain that partners like CVS can’t guarantee on-time test results, and Quest Diagnostics has backed out.
If customers are OK with the test, they should plan well in advance make sure they can get the test results in time but not too far in advance so as not to get tested too far in advance or postpone their trip until testing is more widely available and the strain on the healthcare system is reduced. Only test results from trusted test partners approved by the Hawaii Department of Health are accepted.
It’s a good idea to create reasonable expectations when booking a Hawaii vacation right now.
Travel advisors who have clients interested in visiting the islands during the pandemic also need to ensure plans are fluid and be prepared to make any necessary changes to ensure they have the best trip possible.
Recently, a surge of cases prompted Kauai to drop the pre-arrival Covid-19 testing program, and the island has since reverted to a 14-day quarantine for arrivals.
When visiting Hawaii, it will be important to check and recheck cancellation fees on flights, activities and hotel reservations in case something like this happens and advise clients to have a alternate or back-up plan in case the situation changes.
One way to ensure guests will enjoy their island vacation is to plan a longer-term stay. For guests who are not subject to quarantines and who may be looking to disconnect from the mainland for an extended period, Hawaii offers incentives to attract remote workers who stay longer. Guests who prefer to work in Hawaii rather than at home or do zoom school in the islands rather than in their room could turn to long-term stays.
Hotels are also feeling the pinch of the pandemic.
Travel advisors and visitors booking hotel stays should be aware that many properties closed during the early months of the pandemic and are currently in various phases of reopening. Most properties reopened in October and November, but some are reopening in December and others remain closed or complete renovations.
For example, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort plans to reopen on December 15, 2020, and the Kaanapali Beach Hotel on Maui is showing the results of the first phase of its $75 million renovation when it reopens on December 1.
Shops and restaurants are also in flux, but as the holidays approach, more and more shops, restaurants and activities are reopening. Again, it’s a good idea to know what guests expect when they arrive and make sure these activities will be available.
Restaurants are open for a limited number of indoor meals and parties are limited to five people per table. Masks should be worn without eating or drinking.
Indoor attractions may also open, including zoos, bowling alleys, shopping malls and museums.