HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tourism officials say there have been many complaints and cancelations with the state’s Safe Travels program.
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Tourism officials say travelers from across the US mainland have had a slew of difficulties with the Safe Travels program.
Now, a Waikiki resort is launching a new service that should make it easier for visitors to come to Oahu and travel to the neighbor islands.
“The west coast, while they had access to get the test, more people were not receiving their test results in time, or weren’t able to, and on the east coast they were having trouble finding a trusted testing partner,” explained Kelly Sanders, Highgate Hotels Hawaii Senior Vice President of Operations.
Tourism officials say the biggest complaint was making sure visitors had their test results in hand and on time.
“There was a lot of anxiety, that’s built up if you’re going to the airport and you still don’t have your results and then you get on a plane and you’re just hoping that the tests arrive,” Sanders explained.
Alohilani Resort Waikiki partnered with V2 medical group to do the leg work for guests.
For $150, travelers can have a Vault test shipped to them, a tele-health meeting scheduled to make sure the test is done properly and get results uploaded in the state’s Safe Travels website by the time they fly out to Hawaii.
“Hopefully this will spur others to do likewise more we can make it hassle free experience coming here and a person can get off plane and enjoy the aloha we have always talked about,” said Mufi Hannemann, CEO and President of Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.
Alohilani guests will also be able to do the test on site if they plan on going to a neighbor island.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says it’s a step in the right direction to help revamp the economy.
“I want to see more of this here, more innovative thinking, more solution-oriented growth for our tourism business which is absolutely vital,” he said.
With more people getting vaccinated statewide, he said he is hoping to ease some of the Honolulu tier restrictions in February.
“We think the time has come, and I promised the governor I’m not going to get out in front of the Governor or the State Department of Health which requires his approval, but that doesn’t stop us from looking at situations that we would like to see and preventing that from happening,” Mayor Blangiardi continued.
He said competitive sports would remain on hold but that he’d like to see youth sports and practicing resume safely.
“I’m also likely to push for perhaps having the bars open,” he said. “I want to put a lot of confidence and trust, not only in the liquor commissioners as they told me they would absolutely help monitor, but also in the bar owners the people who have the most to lose, are the ones who are going to be the most resourceful.”
“We saw an example of that today, at [Alohilani], knowing how much the hotels have been impacted in their resolve if you will, to be innovative to bring in new ideas. I can tell you, having spoken to a lot of bar owners, they have really been brought to their knees. It’s been very, very punishing, I want to believe in them. People want to maintain those businesses, keep them open, serve the public and adhere to the things we asked them to do so it can go about the business again,” Blangiardi said.