HONOLULU (KHON2) — Upwards of 10,000 daily visitors are arriving in Hawaii before Thanksgiving, but that number is likely to go down after the holiday, as COVID-19 cases on the mainland increase and testing for travel becomes impacted.

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The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization Executive Director Carl Bonham expects that number to drop to about half.

“Closer to the 5,000 visitors a day mark,” Bonham said. “It may even fall off from there, depending on how people react to changes in the safe travels program.”  

Travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test before traveling to the islands to bypass quarantine starting on November 24.

Trusted testing partner CVS Pharmacy anticipates delays due to the surge of cases on the mainland and holiday travel demand.

“On average, test results are typically available in three to four days, but currently may take longer due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and increased testing demand during the holiday season,” a CVS Health spokesperson said. “We cannot guarantee a lab test result within the 72-hour window that the state requires and are asking travelers to Hawaii to make other testing plans. We regret any inconvenience.”

Bonham said these are the kind of risks visitors weigh when they decide to make travel plans.

He said, “If we can’t get tests in a way to allow people to come here, then it’s understandable that we’ll have fewer, fewer visitors.”

The Hawaiian Airlines Inc. President and CEO Peter Ingram said they are expanding testing capacity through partnerships with multiple labs on the mainland.

“These companies we use for testing is not the same infrastructure that is used for diagnostic testing,” Ingram said. “So there’s enough capacity for testing to be available for travel, even as there’s more demand throughout the mainland.”  

The main concern remains to get the test results within a 72-hour window before travel. Any kind of delay means a traveler will need to quarantine for two weeks, previously, visitors could quarantine while they waited a day or two for results.

Ingram calls for more flexibility to the state’s travels program.

Ingram said, “For people who have done all of the right things and tried to get their tests within 72 hours, but through no fault of their own didn’t have the results turned around in time.” 

Complete details on the Hawaii’s safe travels program can be found here.

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