Tourism is back in Hawaii. Many travel and public gathering restrictions have been lifted, and the businesses and families that have thus far survived COVID shutdowns are working towards an ever-brighter light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. We’ve been “Living Aloha”, masking up, social distancing, and it’s working.
The parking lots at popular beaches are again (nearly) full of rental vehicles. Improved hiking trails welcome the footfall of new visitors and familiar faces. Golfers duff and shank their way through golf courses from the rain forests of Kauai to the lava barrens of the Kona Coast on the Big Island. Snorkelers bob in calm waters like the peculiar fish they marvel at. Farmers markets are beginning to thrive again.
One of the marvelous aspects of being in Hawaii is that a soaking rain can come at you fast, sideways, as the sun sparkles in a bright blue sky above. It’s been happening in many places around the Aloha State for days on end in the past week, thanks to a cold front that had many of us in long pajamas for days. It can be super-rainy and super-sunny at the same time in the same place. Two seemingly opposite realities can exist at once.
So it is with tourism in Hawaii. The COVID pandemic came at us sideways like the rain, soaking everyone in a universal drench that will take years to dry. We will probably always be damp from it. But the sun is shining again. Flights and rooms are filling again. The daily visitor arrival count has very nearly reached the pre-pandemic average with a Spring Break surge that has helped small businesses and families recover and caused grave concerns about public health and safety at the same time.
Most of Hawaii’s residents have been fine with abiding masking and distancing safety protocols. That fact, combined with the mandatory travel quarantine and the Hawaii Safe Travels program, has kept our COVID numbers relatively low even as unemployment and the need for basic assistance soared.
When people see viral images and video of raucous Spring Break crowds forcing an emergency lock-down in Miami, we are mortified wherever we might be. When scenes of a crowded Waikiki Beach reach our screens here in Hawaii, residents shudder. Yes, we need the business. No, we don’t want another lock-down.
These concerns have led to a re-thinking of tourism in Hawaii. The changes are happening in real time before our eyes as visitors arrive to newly reopened hotels, resorts, and tourism-adjacent businesses. At every level, from booking tickets to the lobby at check in, visitors are encouraged to learn about Hawaii before their vacation, to respect the communities and cultures that make the Aloha State among the most cherished homes and destinations in the world.
One prominent sentiment among people in Hawaii is that “we can reopen because we wore our masks and socially distanced, and you should too”. It is a kind of no-nonsense, common sense outlook that comes from a sense of fairness and common good. It comes through Living Aloha.
Many restrictions that shuttered Hawaii businesses large and small have been lifted. This has breathed life into a gasping Hawaii economy and predictably seen a slight uptick in reported COVID cases here. There is new hope for a speedy recovery, tempered with a kind of wisdom that knows lessons are only learned if they last. Hawaii is on the mend, even in a howling sideways rain in the sun.
We here at Hawaii Aloha Travel want to help you plan your safe Hawaii vacation and to make sure that you have the kind of unforgettable getaway that only the Aloha State and the Aloha Spirit can offer.
Posted by: Jamie Winpenny