Industries forecast a start slow to tourism but hope it ramps up


HONOLULU (KHON2) — A huge difference in visitor numbers is not expected on Oct. 15, but these are the first steps industries that rely on tourism have been waiting on ever since a pre-travel test program was first announced in the summer.

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After months of being closed, Ty Gurney Surf School is back catching waves, but in small groups due to COVID-19 safety protocol. Jessica Vorderkunz, the school manager, said it is likely their operation will stay on the smaller side with the current demand and the reopening restrictions they face under Oahu’s Tier One of its reopening strategy.

“Usually summer is our biggest time of year, that’s when we make the most money, so this past summer was kind of a bummer,” Vorderkunz said, “But we’re glad we’re moving in the right direction and staying safe, trying to practice all of the safety protocols.” 

The Hawaii Tourism Authority President John De Fries said visitors and large hotel properties will be looking at what direction Hawaii takes post-Oct. 15 to decide their next moves.

“Frankly, a number of them waited until Oct. 15 in fact is in place, and then they’ll begin their pre-opening activities from that point forward,” De Fries said. “So I would look for more hotels, major hotels to reopen over the next two to four weeks.”    

De Fries points towards Disney’s Aulani Resort that is reopening on the Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, the early arrivals who take a walk through Waikiki will still see resorts shuttered, as well as high end shops that remain closed.

The International Market Place can be an option, the General Manager Breana Grosz said, more than 50 shops and eateries have reopened since the last Honolulu stay-at-home emergency order was lifted.  

“Everyone is very cognizant of social distancing, wearing masks, there are hand sanitizers throughout our property and establishments,” Grosz said. “Overall I think the visitor can expect a very safe and you know we’re always practicing aloha, so I think they are really going to enjoy coming back to Waikiki.” 

The number of visitors beyond Oct. 15 will help determine what opens next and what stays closed.

Vorderkunz said, “Hopefully as people start to come to the island and get more comfortable we will see more lessons being booked with us.”  

Travelers can learn more about the state’s requirements for enter Hawaii, here.

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