Hawaii visitor arrivals down almost 98% in July as coronavirus pandemic thwarts tourism

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Tourism Authority says visitor arrivals to the islands in July fell by almost 98% when compared to the same month last year.

A report released Thursday says 22,562 visitors arrived by air last month, compared to the 995,210 travelers who arrived in Hawaii in July 2019.

Most of the visitors last month were from the U.S. mainland — only about 2,100 were from international locations.

For the first seven months of the year, arrivals plummeted nearly 65%.

All arriving visitors are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, a measure that for months seemed to keep the coronavirus at bay in Hawaii.

But now, after the local economy began to reopen and restrictions eased earlier this summer, Hawaii is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, spurring yet another round of stay-at-home orders and business closures.

The restrictions, coupled with generally fewer vacationers amid the pandemic, have decimated the state’s tourist-based economy.

Air service to the state was down about 87% in July. No cruise ships are operating.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced last earlier this week that the state won’t reopen to tourism until at least October, which means its 14-day mandatory quarantine for both out-of-state and inter-island travelers (in Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao counties) remains intact. But details have since emerged about a “resort bubble concept” for inter-island travelers.

The state calls the program an “enhanced movement quarantine” that each county can develop to give residents and visitors the ability to travel between islands without a 14-day quarantine.

Officials had been reviewing an idea that would allow tourists to roam freely on resorts while their movements are tracked via a wearable monitor to ensure they stay inside the boundaries of the facilities.

The so-called “resort bubble” concept would keep the tourists within a “geofence” that tracks their movements, West Hawaii Today reported.

Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson and David Oliver, USA TODAY

Sigh: Forget about a Hawaii vacation until at least October as COVID-19 spike delays tourism reopening

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