HONOLULU (KHON2) — Last year’s summer travel boomed despite the pandemic. Pent-up demand from U.S. travelers made up most of the visitors, and this summer could be even busier with the expected return of international travel.
Governor David Ige recently returned from Japan, his mission for the trip was to draw Japanese visitors to the islands once again.
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Ige said, “My commitment to the Prime Minister was that we would do everything we could to support expanding travel to implement or help them implement testing requirements so that we could increase travel between Hawaii and Japan.”
Airlines like ANA have announced an increase in nonstop flights from Japan to Hawaii for summer travel. The state is also projecting more than 165,000 nonstop seats come July.
COVID restrictions continue to halt free travel. Governor Ige said Japan’s government is looking to increase the daily cap allowed to enter the country.
“Right now, it is 10,000 travelers per day, they did talk about increasing that to 20,000 travelers a day,” Ige said. “And then they talked about wanting to see the impact of Golden Week. Hawaii was included in leisure travel for Golden Week.”
Ige also experienced Japan’s COVID restrictions himself. He had to take a COVID test before flying and another upon arrival.
Ige said, “Everyone arriving at the airport is required to take a PCR, and they don’t release you until you complete and receive the results.”
Hawaii has recently seen a slight uptick in COVID weekly cases. Ige said that is concerning but said people in Hawaii are familiar with ways to prevent the spread of COVID, such as wearing face coverings and social distancing.
Ige said, “It certainly is a concern I know last week the seven-day average exceeded 700 and that is a concern.”
Ige does not anticipate reinstating a face-covering requirement for indoor settings at this time.
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Japan has not released an official timeline for when the cap for arrivals will increase to 20,000.