Travel leaders urge Hawaii governor to update travel restrictions ASAP

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Travel leaders are calling for Gov. David Ige to take action by lifting inter-island travel quarantines and moving forward with a vaccine exemption program.

Hawaii’s economy continues to lag.

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According to travel industry leaders, loosening inter-island restrictions and implementing a vaccine passport would give Hawaii a much-needed boost.

Hawaii’s visitor industry is ready for take off, but the governor is pumping the breaks.

Gov. Ige said, he is not ready to lift the inter-island travel restrictions after sighting the recent uptick in cases on Maui. He added that Hawaii may not roll out a vaccine passport program until July 2021.

Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association president Mufi Hannemann said, changes need to happen sooner.

“We need kokua now from government to make timely decisions, not wait to July,” Hannemann said. “Do it in May so that we can start having our numbers go the other direction. “

Hannemann, said hotels remained at 50% capacity even with an increase in visitors over spring break and businesses are still suffering.

“The economy is still hurting, people are out of work, and it’s not just hotels and airlines that we’re looking at here, we’re looking at small businesses, restaurants, mom and pop shops, retail attractions, you know, they need the visitors to come back,” Hannemann explained.

Hawaii ranked dead last in a recent report from the Federal Funds Information for States that looked at the economic momentum of each state. The report showed Hawaii’s economy lagged 5.14% in the first quarter of 2021, which is 3% more than a state would lag in a normal year. It also means economic recovery will take longer.

Hawaiian Airlines president Peter Ingram said, the outdated restrictions put in place in August 2020 need to revised.

“We should look at evolving our policy so that we aren’t putting burdens on a movement of people or other restrictions that that are no longer necessary,” Ingram said.

Hawaiian Airlines is even willing to help State leadership find a way to streamline the process.

“Balancing the risks and balancing the desire to have people move freely through the airports so that we’re not just creating one bottleneck after another with a new process,” Ingram explained.

Ingram is in favor of lifting inter-island quarantines completely without a vaccine exemption program.

Hannemann suggested rolling out the vaccine passport for inter-island travel first and said that could motivate more people to get the shot.