Let’s be honest. The news from Hawaii is enough to make your head spin. It seems like one day, the governor and mayors are crying to stop all travel and then later worry about loss of income, followed by the cheapest Hawaii airfare deals ever. Whew! And now we see what appears to be a precipitous decline in Hawaii COVID cases and a welcome trend.
It’s certainly great news that Hawaii’s COVID cases are trending sharply downward, and now, predictions from the respected Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group (HIPAM) are suggesting it will continue on a downward trajectory. Previously, HIPAM predicted a massive increase in cases at least into October, which data may have been part of the governor’s toolset in suggesting visitors stay home through October. But now, that is all changing so rapidly it is hard to absorb.
“It can shift either way very quickly… “It seems that mitigations are doing their job, but the issue is that there are still a lot of people unvaccinated, and since we cannot eradicate the Delta once we reopen, it will have its course again. It is not a simple situation.” — HIPAM.
Behavior, vaccination, and the latest Hawaii vaccination passports for hotels and restaurants are all considered factors.
Hawaii boom will restart once the coast is clear.
The recent escalation in Delta Variant Covid cases put a massive dent in Hawaii travel. Other factors included the typical seasonal slowdown from the end of summer until the end of year holidays, not to mention the governor’s warning to pause Hawaii vacations.
Warning: The price of flights to Hawaii will start to trend up soon.
Yesterday’s $62 Hawaii deals are certainly not sustainable. And, while we see many opportunities for a great deal of short-term competition on Hawaii flights, that will eventually settle down, probably sooner than later. For those seeking the lowest airfares, buying soon should yield the best deals. That much is clear.
Swings are mind-boggling even for us.
Hawaii travel has swung back and forth so many times in the past six months or so that it can give us headaches. Hawaii went from record tourism in 2019 to virtually no tourism in 2020. Then this year’s epic rollercoaster started in March as extreme demand for Hawaii travel began. And it has been charging up and down since then.
The summer 2021 boom was beyond expectations.
Visitor arrivals this summer exceeded 30k a day. That came due to pent-up COVID travel demand, increased flights, reasonable prices on airfare, international travel woes, and the sense of safety for which Hawaii is known.
The onslaught of visitors after no visitors resulted in pushback from all the islands, with Maui’s mayor being perhaps the most outspoken about limiting travel to the islands. Kauai’s mayor wasn’t without words either.
Hawaii was unprepared for this summer’s tourism. The state’s infrastructure is lacking and seemingly never improving.
Then came Delta.
In hindsight, it appears we didn’t need to do anything to shut off the tourism tap. That was accomplished mainly by an unprecedented number of Covid cases that the US mainland and Hawaii were not prepared for. The state maintains that the dramatic increase was primarily due to travelers from Hawaii returning to the islands, especially those who were not tested and instead self-quarantined.
With fewer tourists came cries about loss of income.
The situation swung so far back towards little tourism that Maui’s mayor then sounded an alarm: “I had a meeting with the hoteliers on Maui this morning and, as of date, 51,000 room nights have been canceled, $21.4 M loss in revenue and that’s Maui County only.” In June, on the other hand, it was Mayor Victorino who had called for “a pause” in Maui tourism.
Hawaii tourism today.
Hawaii daily arrivals have now dipped to under 20,000 as we enter the slower season. While not unusual for fall, it has been exacerbated by an unusually high cancellation rate state-wide.
We remain hopeful that Hawaii is coming around a curve on new Covid cases. And, the fact that California has the best Covid case numbers in the country doesn’t hurt either, given that California is where the most significant number of Hawaii visitors arrive from. What is certain nowadays, however, is that nothing is certain.
As of today, it seems highly likely that with the arrival of the Thanksgiving and, more importantly, Christmas/New Year holiday season, there will be another surge to the levels seen last summer. But is Hawaii ready for that?