Hotel workers facing cuts to work hours as travel restriction on Europe is announced

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — President Trump announced today a travel restriction on Europe, and while Europe is halfway around the world, we may see some impacts in Hawaii.

Jerry Agrusa, a professor for the University of Hawaii School of Travel Management Industry said everything is connected, and an additional loss in travelers to Hawaii can lead to much more.

“The overall number of visitors will go down and with that, we’ll have less people going out whether its in restaurants or going to activities,” said Agrusa.

In 2018, European visitors spent 326.3 million dollars here in Hawaii. While Europe isn’t a major market in the islands, it can play a part in declining tourism numbers. Agrusa said he expects to see jobs affected by the downturn in Asia and the new travel bans.

“I know its going to be bad for a little while and people are going to have to go on unemployment. Hopefully we can gear that up so people won’t get hit too hard,” said Agrusa.

Hotel workers in Hawaii already say they’re worried about the impacts this could bring, especially with work hours already being cut.

“This week is the first schedule in my department that we’re experiencing a shift being cut, so a direct impact is my girlfriend who normally works 5 days, only has 2 days,” said Jason Mrai, a telephone operator for Sheraton Hotels.

With hourly cuts, many workers are experiencing cutbacks to their wages.

“It’s really scary especially since the cost of living in Hawaii is so high,” said Mrai. We bought a condo three years ago so we still have a lot left on our mortgage to pay off, so thats what’s worrying me.”

There’s also a fear that they may lose benefits due to not working enough hours.

“If employees start losing their medical benefits and let’s say they do get sick and they don’t want to go to the doctor because now they have no medical… and they come to work sick, I mean it spreads like that,” said Mrai.

He said he’s started looking to the future, if this gets worse.

“Back up plans, plan Bs plan Cs… just thinking about other jobs we can apply for in case it really gets bad,” said Mrai.

There is some hope for tourism numbers to rise again. Agrusa said the new ban on Europe may also have a chance upping tourism numbers because people who wanted to go to Europe no longer have that option.

“They may change their travel plans and come here to Hawaii,” said Agrusa. “Because most folks that have on their bucket list for travel especially for leisure they’ll have Europe and then they’ll have Hawaii.”

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