A plea for respect as Hawaii prepares to welcome back vaccinated visitors starting Nov. 1


HONOLULU (KHON2) — With COVID cases and hospitalizations on the decline, many were waiting for Gov. Ige to welcome back travelers. Tuesday, it finally happened.

“It is now safe for fully vaccinated residents and visitors to resume non-essential travel to and within the state of Hawaii,” said Gov. David Ige. “We want to invite and encourage fully vaccinated visitors and residents to travel for business or leisure, transpacific and inter island.”

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The tourism industry is excited to hit the road to economic recovery.

“It’s not going to take much for us to be able to bring people back because it’s always anticipated these busier months,” said Mufi Hannemann, HLTA president and CEO. “There’ll be some questions again on what kind of services we can offer because it’s dependent on the property. It depends on the business and because every county has different rules, in terms of large gatherings, indoor gatherings and the like.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a statement:

“I fully agree with Gov. Ige that it is the appropriate time to welcome back leisure travel for our vaccinated residents and visitors. The COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations continue to drop and I look forward to continuing the discussions with the State to ease additional restrictions and allow more activities for the overall public health of our local residents.”

-Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi

Meanwhile, there’s been no changes to the state’s Safe Travels Program. That’s something Maui County finds reassuring.

“The state still has Safe Travels to help protect our county and our community throughout the changes and as we come back into the visitor industry and into the holiday season,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. “Like I told everyone, we need to have safety and respect.”

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The Hawaii Tourism Authority echoed Victorino’s request.

“We’ve had challenges with monk seals and sea turtles, but also how do we make sure that they’re renting legal accommodations, that they’re using reef safe sunscreens,” said Kalani Kaanaana, HTA chief brand officer. “The biggest thing that we can do is ask visitors to consider our story first, before they jump on social media to show and tell theirs.”

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