HONOLULU (KHON2) — Waikiki currently has 5,000 rooms ready to go, with more expected to come online before tourism returns to Hawaii on October 15.
This is according to Hawaii Lodging and Tourism President and CEO Mufi Hannemann.
“We’ve been doing our preseason training all this time, basically, once again, making sure that we were operating on a standards of hygiene and protocols that we have put into place,” Hannemann said. “Those standards have been vetted through the Department of Health, it’s been approved. So that was our signal to government that we are ready to go.”
The emphasis for public health is on keeping Hawaii’s finite medical resources reserved for residents, so plans are in place for visitors who develop symptoms or test positive despite the pre-travel screening process.
“We’re prepared to isolate them to do what we need to do so that we don’t get in the way of the fact that we have to take care of our local people, local hospitals, and they will only be pulled from the resorts or hotels, if in fact the doctors say they need to be hospitalized,” Hannemann added.
In a study conducted by the University of Hawaii TIM school professor Dr. Jerry Agrusa, 68% of visitors would be willing to take a COVID-19 test before traveling to Hawaii. Dr. Agrusa believes that a smaller volume of tourists will be good for the state.
“What we want is high spending tourists. We want good tourists, tourists that stay in hotels, tourists that shop tours that take surfing lessons. I don’t care if they only took a surfing lesson once but that employs a surf instructor. And then that surf instructor has a little extra money and he can go shopping at the mall,” Dr. Agrusa said.
With horrific raging wildfires in the western continental United States during what would be a popular vacation season, Dr. Agrusa says Hawaii could be an alternate travel spot.
“Our largest market is the West Coast, those poor people, my family lives in Northern California, they have burning, it’s smokey, Washington State, Oregon. Those are all people that just want to get away. Even if it’s only for a week or 10 days, this could rejuvenate them. You know, and I think that that’s one of the target markets we should be looking at.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office tells KHON2 that the city is working on plans to open Hanauma Bay and the Honolulu Zoo.
There has been no word from the state about the status of Diamond Head.