HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige declined to offer any specific timeline Wednesday for when tourism would be rebooted in Hawaii but said he has a plan to do it safely.
In a candid, one-on-one interview with Hawaii News Now, Ige talked about why he’s holding off on setting any dates for restarting tourism and why he expects foreign travelers may be coming here first.
When asked about a timeline, Ige said there are four different phases to restarting travel: Inter-island, domestic, international, and creating an alternate screening and tracking process to replace a quarantine. The inter-island quarantine will be lifted June 16, but a quarantine will stay in place for mainland and international travelers beyond June 30.
Different countries are considering "travel bubbles" or "fast lanes" to other destinations where the infection rates are low... and travelers face less restrictions.
Ige says the state may welcome back visitors from places like Japan or Korea before those from the mainland.
“I looked at the stats yesterday the United States as a country had 15, 20,000 new cases and you look to Japan, all of Japan had 33 new cases and all of Korea had 35 new cases, so from my perspective the travel bubbles are establishing corridors to communities with similar virus risk and similar virus activity,” he said.
He says he’s not going to give specific dates about restarting tourism without knowing more about the situation.
“That’s the challenge. Everybody wants to just have a plan, set dates and drive through it. The reality is the triggers are going to be based on the virus activity in those communities at that point in time,” he said. "We err on the side of protecting the public health. That’s what we do in an emergency.
“That’s what we do for hurricanes and tsunamis.”
The governor says the hotel industry has said it needs at least a month to prepare for an influx of visitors and he says the state is working with Hawaii’s congressional delegation to try and change TSA protocol to better track where passengers are coming from.