Flu fears have travelers choosing Hawaii over Mexico

Dean Nakamura
Dean Nakamura

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It seems night after night, there's nothing but negative swine flu reports, but, in Hawaii there may be something positive about it.

The swine flu scare has sent travel agents scrambling. Instead of sunny Mexico beaches, travelers are re-booking elsewhere. Agents say one of the top alternatives is Hawaii.

Let the travel tango begin. That's where Honolulu's Pleasant Holidays steps in.

"We've seen a lot of re-bookings, over 20%," said product manager Dean Nakamura.

Major travel agents say the top choice is Jamaica, but in sweet second is Hawaii.

"That's something that we really need because of the recession and the hard economic times," said Nakamura.

With the state's tourism numbers at all time lows, Hawaii hopes to turn the potential pandemic positive. Pleasant Holidays books about 350,000 passengers each year, but because of a bad economy, numbers are below average. Thanks to the flu scare, re-booked visitors will help the company break even.

The company is waiving its fees to change itineraries, so are many major airliners. Some local hotels are offering rooms half off to anyone re-booking Mexico plans. No matter where you travel, lessen your worries by knowing what websites to visit before your vacation.

"THe U.S. Health Department, the CDC and the World Health organization where you can get the most updated information. Go to those websites and you can make a decision but Hawaii is a great destination," said Nakamura.

While other destinations offer great deals to attract people re-booking their Mexican vacations, so is Mexico. Because of the scare, prices are slashed.

Since last week, some all-inclusive deals now offer airfare, hotel, meals and more for half the price.