Hawaii governor invites visitors to return on Nov. 1

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Tuesday that visitors will be welcomed back to Hawaii and nonessential travel can resume starting Nov. 1.

Ige made the comments during a news conference at the new international terminal at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport in Kona, according to several local news outlets. 

Ige tweeted that the decreasing number of new Covid cases in the islands gave the state the ability to safely welcome back fully vaccinated domestic travelers. He added that the state would have a plan in place by Nov. 8 for international visitors.

On Aug. 23, as the state was facing its highest Covid-19 case rate of the pandemic due to the spread of the delta variant and hospitals were reaching capacity in their intensive care units, Ige recommended a halt to all nonessential travel to and from the Aloha State.

The governor’s announcement in August sowed confusion within the trade since his recommendation was a suggestion and not an official mandate. Nevertheless, there was a spike in hotel cancellations throughout the state and visitor numbers tailed off.

“The local tourism industry is pleased that Governor Ige signaled today that he is ready to welcome nonessential travelers back to Hawaii beginning Nov. 1,” the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association (HTLA) said in a statement following the announcement.

“While we recognize that there are still details that need to be sorted out — paying special mind to input from the county mayors and information provided by the healthcare community and the business sector — this announcement is an important first step toward getting our economy moving again safely and judiciously.”

HLTA president Mufi Hannemann said in September that the industry had seen cancellations increase and occupancy cut nearly in half in some instances.

“Some hotels have been forced to offer discounts in order to keep operating, and all of this taking place during our normal slow season,” Hannemann said.

Ige reportedly cited Hawaii’s decline in coronavirus numbers over the last several weeks, fewer Covid patients in hospitals and a healthier healthcare system for his decision to encourage the return of visitors to the islands. Oahu had recently relaxed some rules on gatherings.

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