HONOLULU (KHON2) — There was a quick and resounding response from the Hawaii visitor industry after the Centers For Disease Control’s announcement, urging the governor to open up travel.
Hawaiian Airlines is even saying it will help the state get travel going again.
[Hawaii news on the go–LISTEN to KHON 2GO weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m.]
The visitor industry says it is time for Hawaii to move forward and let fully vaccinated people travel freely in and out of the state.
“The CDC has spoken and we’d like to see some encouraging movement in this so that we can ultimately, at the end of the day, spur the economy safely and put more people back to work,” said Mufi Hannemann, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association president and CEO.
The head of Hawaiian Airlines says being able to verify proof of vaccination from travelers is the next big step.
“Verification was one of the things we had to deal with and the state had to deal with in regards to testing in the Safe Travels Program, and in some regard that will be no different here,” Peter Ingra, Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO.
Ingram says the company is ready and willing to help in any way to make it happen. Verifying can be done either at the point of departure or upon arrival.
“I think what we’d like to do is just engage in discussion of what the process should look like, and how it should be designed, and where any document verification would take place to make it as efficient as possible,” he said.
He adds that showing a vaccination card should be considered.
“We think we should be open minded to a variety of ways right now. If we were trying to do this tomorrow, that’s really the only practical way we have,” said Ingram.
He says the company is ready to ramp up flights and staffing when needed. Hannemann says hotels are also prepared. He says loosening travel restrictions is significant with hotel occupancy just under 50%, and the state should at least consider loosening inter-island travel.
“Let’s start the counties and the state agreeing that the first beneficiaries of all of this would be the inter-island travelers and that would benefit local people big time,” said Hannemann.