Hawaii Visitor Data Is In. As We Predicted, Numbers Are Way Up

Disagreement, Silence Follow Governor’s Incongruous “Stay Away” Request

It has been two days since Governor Ige asked visitors to stay away, at least through October. However, nothing requires them to do so, and we see from your comments that many visitors are still coming and likely will.

At the same time, since the governor’s surprise announcement, we hear from Hawaii travel companies across the board that they have seen a huge number of cancellations and a precipitous drop in new reservations.

All important statewide stakeholders from government to industry have been loath to contradict the governor’s surprise move and timing directly. That is largely not way here in Hawaii. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t report on what others have said, done, and more.

Ige’s request comes as officials have reiterated that the visitors are not the cause of the Covid explosion.

Instead, we are repeatedly told, whether true or not, that the issue is based on residents returning home and creating community spread. Many of you question whether visitors are perhaps arriving with asymptomatic cases that they spread. On the other hand, visitors have significantly less community exposure potential than do residents.

Mufi Hannemann is the most outspoken of all, with an interesting twist on visitors.

Mufi Hannemann is Honolulu’s prior mayor. He is currently running for re-election, while Ige’s friend and prior mayor Kirk Caldwell is struggling financially in his run for governor. Ige is, as you know, “termed out.” Lieutenant Governor Josh Green appears to be in the lead for governor in 2022. That’s Hawaii.

In any event, Mufi is the vociferous head of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. Mufi just said that the problem clearly lies with the local unvaccinated population.

Regarding visitors, however, Mufi has a different idea entirely and wants the message to be the following:

“If you are unvaccinated, you are not welcome in Hawaiʻi.” — Mufi Hannemann.

He bases that request on the fact that, as Josh Green said earlier today, “About 90% of those hospitalized have not taken any vaccine to protect themselves from COVID-19.” Mufi said “there’s very few tourists in that mix. That’s why we are having a hard time trying to digest all of it because we really have tried our best to comply with everything the state has asked us.”

In an interview we listened to, Mufi said, you’ve got Hawaii Tourism, “all now saying they’re going to convey that message out there. The response that we have gotten so far from those who help us with businesses bring business travel here, or tourists in general here is not very positive. They’re anticipating more cancellations, people thinking of going elsewhere.” He did not mention the impact any slowdown would have on the state’s volatile unemployment, one of the other white elephants.

Airline partners answer with definitive action and no words.

At the time of his announcement Monday, the governor said that he is “working with airlines and hotels to spread the word.” Ige asked that they “do whatever they could to reduce travel here to the islands.” He also mentioned that “certainly, I am fully aware that all the airlines continue to struggle.” He indicated that he had a general understanding with the airlines, but whatever that meant is completely unclear to us and perhaps to the airlines.

So what has been the precise response of the Hawaii airline industry?

Yesterday, following Ige’s request to curtail travel, Hawaii airfare sales were announced starting at $200 round-trip from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. Those were largely sales from the west coast. Today we saw that American Airlines stretched it further with huge discounts on flights to Hawaii from both Phoenix and Denver.

While they haven’t responded to Ige’s request publically, and we can’t even imagine what they are saying within their company walls, their actions, however, spoke more loudly than words with airfare sales this fall.

Conspicuous radio-silence among most stakeholders.

We looked and asked for comments from various statewide Hawaii stakeholders, both in government and industry. There was little to be said. Silent were normally outspoken Lieutenant Governor and emergency room physical Josh Green, Hawaii State Chair Scott Saiki, both of the U.S. Senators, and virtually everyone else we could think of. We again believe that Green was blind-sighted by the governor, inasmuch as Green had just announced that any changes forthcoming would have two weeks’ notice.

Only the Hawaii Tourism Authority Concurred with Ige.

Only the HTA’s head, said, “Our community, residents, and the visitor industry are responsible for working together to address this crisis. As such, we are strongly advising visitors that now is not the right time to travel, and they should postpone their trips through the end of October.”

94 thoughts on “Disagreement, Silence Follow Governor’s Incongruous “Stay Away” Request”

  1. Our problem is we booked months ago and even bought travel insurance. But neither the condo owner nor the airline will give a refund or voucher for postponing! The insurance folks also denied us. So, if we don’t come in mid September, we throw away over $5,000. We get a refund only if Hawaii shuts down officially, but this “request” or “suggestion” to not travel means nothing to airlines and VRBOs. We’re stuck!! It’s a bad situation for people who want to do the right thing.

  2. Listening to KSSK 92.3 this morning, heard that there is a large group of University of Hawaii football team fans are going to the ULCA game. Did the Governor tell them not to come back unless the get tested? Again blame tourists, and not hold residents accountable. Hey governor, you cant have it both ways…..

    1. Interesting, so it’s ok to come here into So Cal, but I’m not welcome there, even though I’m vaccinated.

      1. Actually, it would be nice if the tourists would stay out of SoCal, too. My little beach town is overrun with unmasked families. And yes, it’s very obvious the great majority of them are from elsewhere.

      2. RJ, the desire of the governor and too many residents is this: “send your checks, stay home.” Without tourism and the military, Hawaii is bankrupt. But the people of Hawaii don’t have to work – as long as the current president is in office, they will get all the money they need. I always thought American could travel freely between the states.

        1. Amen, Ige a “Lameduck”, a few years ago, he and Mazie Hirono blamed the U.S. Navy when there was a Nuclear Attack Warning in Waikiki (January 2019), while it was a City or County who failed Back-up Protocols. To the Pandemic, Ige followed took the $, cared not about local businesses that generate Tax revenue for the State. Now, he has 120,000 First Responders, Fire and Police not taking the Jab!

        2. Good Day Rod W.

          Once upon a time free travel within the United States including Hawaii was accepted as a norm. But then COVID came and in the panic that ensued that privilege, among many others, were thrown at the feet of false Gods of Politics in exchange for promises to “flatten the curve in 15 days”, advice of wearing a mask (or two) for 2 years to save yourself, and lock yourself away and shutter your home until some indeterminable point in time, etc.

          Now we have the vaccines that are 95%+/- efficient in protecting us; except when we are told they aren’t. We have a substantial portion of the population not favoring nor accepting vaccination in the face of being repeatedly advised that COVID might kill you (yes, it can and does); COVID might destroy your quality of life (yes, it can and does; and, COVID may rob you of your future livelihood (yes, it can and does). I find it interesting that as much as 15-20% of the population of this nation rejects such advice. Such seems counter to the most basic will of a sentient being; self-preservation. Are they suicidal? Somehow I doubt it. Perhaps, just perhaps, the politicians and experts have contradicted themselves on one too many occasions, or perhaps the facts observed by the mere commoners outside the labs, pharmaceutical company boardrooms, and political offices don’t square with the varying theories.

          Whatever the reason we now have successfully established a distinct dividing line between “them and us”. Distinguished by two injections that continue to shift in application and functionality on an almost daily basis.

          So what do we do about this? Australia shoots dogs and build camps. New Zealand isolates an island that cannot support itself long term. The United States denies access to medical care for the non-vaccinated and denies them a place to earn a living.

          I suggest we take a deep breath, reach down and pet our dog, and give serious thought to what we are becoming.

  3. Please tell us what percentage of Hawaiian residents are unvaccinated. I am vaccinated and plan on taking the booster (3rd injection) as soon as available. Does the statement that unvaccinated are not welcome apply to residents as well as visitors? Maybe there needs to be more emphasis on getting residents vaccinated.

  4. If I am not mistaken, a few newsletters ago, the Beat of Hawaii said that only 2% of those hospitalized with COVID were visitors. So, I am not sure why the visitors are the problem. Is it because the 2% is infecting the 98% that are hospitalized? I agree it visitors should have a pre-screened band, especially to exit the airport or be turned around and return home. All airports should do that.

    Bonnie – You must be a COVID magnet knowing two people that died from the vaccine. You could be another statistic. However, in the US, from December 14, 2020, through August 23, 2021, only 6,968 deaths out of 363 million vaccinated. In case you want to face reality, I have included the link to the meaningless statistics.

    1. Hollie—-great comments. Regarding the air travel. If they are not prescreened they should never be allowed on the plane. BC if they have it and 350 people on a confined tin can all have the risk of getting it as well. No transparency and being honest to board. Then they don’t board until they have a negative test in hand.

      1. What’s interesting and was National News earlier this year, was a Couple with children, who boarded in Seattle and in San Francisco were to connect to Hawaii, United having a Testing Facility there, they tested Positive, both Adults, they were not challenged by United at Boarding to Oahu and as you mentioned potentially infected 150-200 people + those in Terminal, upon arriving in Oahu, they connected to Kauai and were allowed to Board and go on their way, potentially infecting another 150 people + those in Terminal. There was some mention, but nothing specific, but given Kauai’s Mayor’s outspokenness and the Islands very limited Hospital resources, this should be on all concerned, from Seattle Sea-Tac, SFO, United and Hawaiian. It would be interesting to measure what the fallout was!

  5. I am concerned that October is coming
    And i hope Hawaii is open for tourists
    I hope no lockdown
    I am concerned that Labor day is September 6
    Thank you
    Keep me updated as we get closer to October 1
    And after Labor Day

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