HONOLULU (KHON2) — Travel agents in Honolulu said demand started to pick up in the last month, with bookings nearly reaching pre-pandemic levels.
They said this is another step towards full recovery.
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More shots on arms means fewer travel restrictions. Governor David Ige said now that more than 50% of the state’s population have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the state will drop all travel restrictions for interisland travel.
Ige said, “Beginning Tuesday June 15, we will be ending the restriction on inter county travel, people will be able to fly inter county without restrictions.”
The governor also extended the vaccine passport program to include mainland travel for those able to prove they received at least one vaccine dose in Hawaii.
The announcement has many travel agencies excited for what is to come. Vacations Hawaii Sales and Promotions Manager Kevin Kaneshiro said they welcome the announcement.
Kaneshiro said, “Now that we don’t have to get a negative test coming back into the State of Hawaii, that just makes it that much easier so we are so excited.”
Panda Travel Product Development Manager John DeFreitas said the cost and uncertainty of test results coming back in time deterred potential travelers.
“When you go away, you have to kind of already plan your return, and what you have to do,” DeFreitas said. “So you’re always in your mind about what’s going to happen on the return, can I get back in, am I going to be able to find a testing place and make an appointment.”
The Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram said, the safe travels program has allowed for a gradual economic recovery to the islands, and it is getting better as more people get vaccinated.
Ingram said, “Since January, a larger recovery largely driven by success here in Hawaii and U.S. in reducing the spread of disease and vaccines have been essential to that.”
At least 70% of Hawaii residents need to be fully vaccinated in order for the governor to drop the safe travels program completely.
Maui Mayor Micheal Victorino said they are hopeful the state will meet that goal, he urges people to get their shots.
Victorino said, “We cannot reach these goals unless you, those who have not been vaccinated gets vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, Kaui Mayor Derek Kawakami in a statement said is encouraged by the progress the state is making in battling the virus.
“We all want life to return to normal again, and we’ve learned that vaccines are paving the quickest path towards that goal. Our state is heading in the right direction because of the collective work of our communities. We now have a statewide vaccine goal, and the Governor’s plan fits nicely with our new tier benchmarks tied to vaccination rates approved last month. I encourage everyone to do their part and get vaccinated if they are able. Now is the time.”
For the weeks leading up to June 15, people will still need to show proof of vaccination to skip test or quarantine requirements for interisland travel.