Hanauma Bay

Muddled Messaging From State Sends Hawaii Travel Spiraling Down

This is fast becoming a mess at a new level. The situation with Hawaii’s Covid 19 case and hospitalization surge and its ongoing lack of medical resources are, of course, a paramount consideration, as are whatever actions are required to protect Hawaii residents.

More than what the governor said yesterday and what the state is doing, one big issue is creating confusion and unnecessary, long-lasting bad karma.

Unclear messaging on why visitors should cancel vacations.

We were struck by a lack of clarity on what Hawaii is doing and why after watching the press conference. There was no mention of why we seemingly got to the point of asking visitors not to come without any notice, what other remediation is on the table, including a curfew, quarantine supervision, or pre and post-travel testing, among others.

Hawaii data has been heading in this dangerous direction for the past 6+ weeks, which leads us to wonder why has there been so little communication from the governor over this time? Lastly, Hawaii officials all continue to assert that the visitor component to Hawaii’s Covid woes is less than 2%.

Exactly why should you not come now?

Governor Ige specifically said to visitors yesterday, don’t come now because you won’t have the vacation you are expecting. His exact words were, “We know that the visitors who choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday they expect when they come to Hawaii.”

BOH: Likely that should have been conveyed differently to assert that the overwhelming reason is the preservation of medical system resources and not the quality of your Hawaii vacation. Visitors already knew that restaurant capacity is limited in multiple ways and that car rentals remain an issue, albeit improving. If the governor is saying that you shouldn’t come now so as not to add one iota (2%) to the Hawaii hospital calamity, that’s fine. But he said instead that you shouldn’t come now because your experience won’t be normal. Does that make sense?

We are also concerned that the governor’s messaging does not add to the Aloha towards tourism needed among residents. Not to mention another obvious issue. If there are no visitors, unemployment in Hawaii will rage out of control once again. And this time, it will be without any backstop.

How two weeks’ notice of changes became just one day.

Sunday, Lt. Governor Green, noticeably missing from the governor’s press conference yesterday, said that Hawaii-bound vacationers could expect two weeks’ advance notice of any upcoming changes.

BOH: Epic failure in messaging. Are Green and Ige even communicating? Because if they are, how could we arrive at the governor asking people to postpone Hawaii vacations just one day after the lieutenant governor saying we’d have those two weeks notice?

Ige failed to acknowledge the importance of Hawaii’s visitors. 

There was a stunning absence of Aloha and empathy towards both visitors and the visitor industry in yesterday’s press conference. And beyond simple human understanding, did Ige forget that visitors are now and for the foreseeable future the only significant economic driver of this state?

BOH: Common courtesy, let alone island Aloha, teaches us to be thoughtful and kind towards others. So when you are asking visitors to, in effect, cancel Hawaii vacations on a dime, and totally at their expense, some measure of compassion would seem indicated. In countless comments, you have said that you cannot get money back by canceling Hawaii vacations.

What did tourism stakeholders do? How about $99 airfares.

We can assure you that stakeholders from accommodations to airlines were caught off-guard as much as the rest of us were. And this morning, we got promotional emails and see that $99 airfares have returned on a range of airlines amid Hawaii airfare wars. Those fares are for the same period when the governor asks visitors not to travel to Hawaii. This is all so confusing.

Just some of what you’ve had to say so far.

Pam: “In my humble opinion a slow down is a good idea, but not slamming the brakes on… We cannot return to the way things were in the first Covid lockdown. Having Ohana on the BI right now, the locals and visitors are all masking and distancing. Not everyone is reckless… Most of all be kind to others.”

Mark: “Stop the tourists for less than 2%? People need their heads checked. Cannot keep paying people for staying at home.”

Paul: “I can understand them wanting less people to come however if only 2% are visitors being affected, why the push to stop visitors? Plus it is a bit late to ask tourists from coming. We made our plans a year ago. We are fully vaccinated… So easy to say don’t come. Not so so easy for us to comply.”

BGR: “I work at Maui Memorial. Last week 98% of patients admitted with Covid were unvaccinated.”

Tim: “For those with existing reservations (flights and hotels or Condos) to still do the trip especially if not allowed to cancel for refund… For those still booking trips you may want to delay them til later.”

Heather: “If you keep imposing restrictions people will not come… The economy is already going to not recover the same… People have lost everything many landlords are in big trouble… Even in the small town on the North of the island Havi… All businesses are lost except one restaurant is left.”

Lori: “The vast majority of Hawaiian Covid-19 cases are community spread. The tourists aren’t the problem. Why is Gov Ige doing this?”

John: “It is my pleasure to comply with the Decree. In fact, I’ll go one step further and never return to Hawaii. I don’t spend my $$ in places that view me as a problem.”

Please let us know your thoughts!

148 thoughts on “Muddled Messaging From State Sends Hawaii Travel Spiraling Down”

  1. Well, the “Aloha” left when we were there in 2020 at the onset of the chaos. Rules changed every day, beaches were closed, National Guard was brought in to assist at checkpoints that did not let anyone stray from their own area of the island, citations were handed out to anyone, anywhere they were not supposed to be and the locals, who could do whatever they wanted with a wave from the police while they were breaking the law, turned on any non local they felt like harassing. We were on our own if something went wrong, except for the few friends we still had on the island. My step daughter works for a company that places medical personnel in various jobs around the country and the nurses they try to place in Hawaii are refusing to go due to the harassment of locals who are unhappy with any outsiders coming in to do a job. What a sad commentary on a place where I used to feel totally at home and at ease.

  2. I love Hawaii and come every year, but I totally agree with Governor Ige. Covid is exploding across the nation and in addition, people get sick, have accidents, heart emergencies etc. Like all states Hawaii has a limit on how many patients they can handle. Right now they have reached their limit. Plus, getting a reservation if eat out is limited, the mayor of Maui wants to restrict visitors to their resort property etc. If we want to get back to normal, then we need to get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible.

  3. Remember Hawaii is the only state that you can’t drive to another state to find a hospital that is not full. Ige should have regulated how many reservations hotels can take. And ban all vrbo Airbnb.
    If you can regulate restaurants and stores do the same for hotels

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top