Maui County Gears Up for “Substantial” Return of Visitors
By Wendy Osher
The County of Maui is gearing up for a “substantial” return of visitors as the state begins offering a pre-travel testing program on August 1st for trans-Pacific travelers as an alternative to the 14-day mandatory quarantine.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino says the Governor’s announcement gives the visitor industry and businesses time to implement proper health and safety measures.
“I have no idea as far as what five weeks from now will bring for us. Right now as you can see, we’ve been averaging about 1500 to 1700 passengers a day coming into the state of Hawaiʻi. And visitors have been around 500 or 600 of that number,” said Mayor Victorino.
Today marks 13 weeks since the state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started for all passengers arriving in Hawaiʻi from out of state. Yesterday, 1,536 people arrived in Hawaiʻi, including 411 visitors and 445 returning residents. Here on Maui, 103 people arrived on two trans-Pacific flights, including 48 visitors, 37 returning residents, four individuals planning to relocate to Maui, one passenger in transit to another location and 13 crew members.
During this same time last year approximately 35,000 passengers arrived in Hawaiʻi daily, including residents and visitors, according to data released today by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority.
“I anticipate that once this testing gets in place, that people can come and feel safe here, and our residents feel safe. Those numbers will climb quite substantially and so we’re gearing up our airport security, our airport checkpoints to make sure we don’t let anyone slip through without being checked,” said Mayor Victorino.
Meantime, the Mayor tells us he believes the visitor industry is prepared to relaunch and rehire staff to meet the need as visitors start returning to the islands in greater numbers.
“I think that they have been waiting for this moment and there are a number of people now that have been unemployed for quite an extended period of time. And unemployment–especially the special federal $600 a week will be running out very soon. So people are looking forward to getting back to work,” said Mayor Victorino.
Maui’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the state with the state Department of Labor and Industrial relations reporting a 34.5% unemployment rate for Maui Island in May. That’s slightly down from the 35.7% (non-seasonally adjusted) rate in April, but drastically different than the 2.4% rate at the same time last year.
“I believe we’re ready… The next four to five weeks gives the opportunity for the hospitality industry, our hotels and other ancillary services to get ready and gear up,” said Mayor Victorino.