HONOLULU (KHON2) — A new study by the Economic Research Organization at the University Hawaii is laying out a possible future for how the coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact the tourism economy.
According to the study, they are predicting, visitor arrivals to fall by 13 percent in the upcoming months, with visitor spending to drop by 17 percent in the same time frame. They say this could lead to nearly 6,000 job losses.
“Our bottom line is, we are the largest employer for private sector jobs in Hawaii with over 220,000 jobs, many people depend on hospitality for their livelihood,” said Mufi Hanneman, President of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “Jobs may be in jeopardy if we have a prolonged slump.”
He said they’re already seeing some impacts with a decline in Japanese tourists, Hawaii’s biggest market.
“We’re in a situation where we’re exploring all of our options… but at the same time we want to keep operating as much as we can, keep our workers working.”
There is a silver lining to the predictions by researchers, they say things could rebound quickly, but it all depends on when the outbreak will be over.
At Waikiki Beach, some businesses say they’re looking out for coronavirus impacts.
“I’m worried. I’m afraid I might lose my job or not be employed because of this. We might not have anybody come, like for business-wise,” said Elias Walker, Dive Oahu worker.
Walker works as a photographer for Dive Oahu and helps with renting surfboards. He said it’s been slow for a few weeks at their kiosk.
“Hopefully it doesn’t impact us hard because then we’ll be out of business,” said Walker.
He said right now it’s a toss for how business will be in the future.
“In the next couple of weeks, in the next month, I’m not too sure what’s going to happen. Business might be booming because spring break and the flights are super cheap or it’s going to be dead because of the coronavirus,” said Walker.