When you live in a visitor economy during a pandemic, decisions are difficult to make. Take Hawaii for example. The state needs tourism dollars desperately, but not at the risk of personal safety. In the end, decisions about health should take priority. But transparent and timely communication with your industry stakeholders and visitors is of paramount importance. It is simply the right thing to do but is not happening.
One BOH reader, Eve, stated the situation well:
“I understand the predicament Hawaii finds itself in. However, the Gov needs to make up his mind which way he is going to go. Either way, some segment of Hawaiian society is going to be upset – either those who would hope for a safer opening, or those who are hurting more financially.
On the mainlaind, tourists are looking for somewhere to go. We want to get away from stress, from politics, and from all the bad stuff that 2020 has brought. Hawaii is paradise to us. We’d love to come back. However, we can’t make last-minute changes, or be expected to change vacation dates with employers at the last minute. We have to know more than a few days in advance that you’re bumping the quarantine out again. Personally, I’m not due to come out till November, but in order to get a refund for my lodging, I have to let them know by September, so I’m not holding my breath on that. I’m hoping my flight gets cancelled so I get my money back on that, too. Otherwise, it’ll be a looooonnng time before I come back.”
What visitors want to know:
Is the September 1 date going to be extended? If so, on what basis will the state determine when it will allow quarantine-free travel. Any timely, honest, and candid answer here would be refreshing. Even as late as yesterday, Hawaii’s governor, in spite of all evidence from state medical professionals, would not give a clear call on extending the quarantine into September. In the end, he will definitely pull the plug on September travel, so why wait and cause further consternation for both the travel industry and for visitors? Stringing people along is simply wrong.
Will airfares and accommodations be canceled and refunded? Airlines and hotels (including Hilton Hawaiian Village and Grand Wailea) are already canceling September Hawaii travel proactively, so why does the governor need to seemingly be last to take action and advise the public? Our physician lieutenant governor, however, has already been very clear that a delay needs to occur.
The bottom line is this:
Hawaii visitors have a reasonable right to know what is happening as it impacts them. So do businesses related to travel like hotels, vacation rentals, activity providers, airlines, restaurants, shops, farmers, and more. The airlines want to sell tickets to Hawaii and Hawaii visitors want to buy them. But you can’t keep selling airline tickets and making hotel reservations that simply cannot be used. Period.
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