Hawaii hopes for a tourism rebound when visitors are welcomed back

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Visitor industry leaders said although leisure travel to the Hawaiian islands opens on Monday, Nov. 1, do not expect to see hotels and beaches flooded with guests just yet. It will take a while for the momentum to return to what it once was.

“We’re seeing it now in cancellations being reversed and bookings being made, but once again, it’s going to take time because we’re not going to see a major turnaround till perhaps late November, going into December in the festive season,” said Mufi Hannemann, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO.

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Travel experts expect low prices for hotels and airfare to continue as demand catches up, giving kama’aina a chance to cash in on deals.

“You can still see a $99 offer from Hawaiian Airlines, which you would never see that in history in the month of November for travel into quarter one,” said Vikram Singh, hospitality analyst at Vikram Singh LLC. “Quarter one is where we traditionally held on to higher rates; we’re not really doing that because hotels are still struggling to build a base, and airlines are still struggling to sell the over $500 round trip to to Los Angeles.”

The lack of demand and COVID restrictions continue to prevent industry employees from getting back to work.

“The food and beverage side, the convention side, large gatherings, banquets, weddings all have not been able to operate the way that we would like to have seen them operate. That is going to require some ramp up time.”

Mufi Hannemann, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO

The restaurant industry is not waiting until a huge rush. They were slammed during the summer of 2021 with long lines and wait times. Restaurants, like Duke’s Waikiki, have not forgotten about the locals. They want to make sure they get to enjoy a piece of paradise, too.

“We have kama’aina slots that I think, sometimes, people don’t know about or maybe they don’t think about and ask,” said Dylan Ching, Vice President of TS Restaurants. “I think it’s always worth asking because we’re definitely committed to that and want to make sure that our local people feel that they, at least, have a better shot to get a reservation — at least at our place.”

It will be a long road to recovery, but the visitor industry is ready to get moving.

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“If we can make sure that the dollars circulate in the economy — small businesses, large businesses and midsize businesses — that’s what makes the economic engine that we have here in the state continue to prosper,” added Hannemann.

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