When it comes to restarting tourism, everyone agrees on this: It won’t be easy

State orders have shuttered scores of Hawaii businesses, brought tourism to a virtual...
State orders have shuttered scores of Hawaii businesses, brought tourism to a virtual standstill, closed school campuses and prompted tens of thousands of Hawaii residents to work from home. Location: Waikiki Beach / April 20, 2020(jonathan saupe | Jonathan Jared Saupe / Digital Content Creator / Hawaii News Now)
Published: May. 7, 2020 at 1:31 PM HST|Updated: May. 7, 2020 at 1:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The tourism industry, which just a few months ago was advertising Hawaii’s attractions worldwide, is now in the odd position of trying to keep people from leaving their rooms.

Staffers report making more than 18,000 phone calls since late March to check on visitors in quarantine.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reports about 4,500 visitors arrived in Hawaii by air during the last week of March and all of April. At this time last year, about 30,000 people were arriving daily.

All Hawaii visitors now have to fill out forms explaining the purpose of their trip.

Some had weddings or honeymoons, but most said they were visiting friends or family or had work or school obligations. Nearly 1,300 left the form blank.

The challenge for the state is getting all those people to stay put indoors for 14 days.

More than a few have not, and some have gotten arrested for it.

“They make me very angry when they behave that way," said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “You’re risking lives of our loved ones."

Green said he’s working on a plan to restart tourism, adding “there’s not going to be an easy way.”

He’s calling for temperature screenings and digital tracking, and he says we’ll need about 500 contact tracers. But right now, the goal is deterring visitors.

One new rule bans most travelers from renting cars.

State senators also want to start withholding room keys, and they’ve asked the state Attorney General’s Office to start issuing immediate fines to those who break quarantine.

Amid all the debate, there’s also a big question: How many visitors will actually come?

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