6 in 10 mainland travelers say they’d be willing to be tested for COVID-19 to visit Hawaii

UH travel professor says Hawaii needs high spending visitors.
UH travel professor says Hawaii needs high spending visitors.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 5:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new UH study shows the majority of travelers from the mainland would be willing to take a COVID-19 test prior to landing in Hawaii and after arrival.

The study’s author says it’s important information as government leaders grapple with restarting tourism. Some have floated the idea of requiring visitors to be tested order to avoid quarantine.

The dilemma for government is that most of Hawaii’s tourists come from the mainland, where COVID-19 infections are still spiking.

“We need to be very cautious,” said study author Jerry Agrusa, an associate professor at the UH-Manoa Shidler College of Business.

And, he said, that means testing travelers before they visit.

[Read more: Report: Screening visitors for temps, symptoms would miss two thirds of infections]

Agrusa found that 63% of mainland travelers would agree to take a COVID-19 test before they landed in Hawaii and 61% would agree to taking it after they landed in the islands.

The study showed mixed responses for Hawaii’s quarantine, but less support once people found out a violation could mean one year in jail.

About 40% of travelers, meanwhile, said they don’t feel comfortable flying right now.

Agrusa said Hawaii also needs to attract high-spending visitors who stay in hotels, which creates jobs, as opposed to low-spending visitors who stay in illegal vacation rentals.

"We don't want the $199 round trip from Seattle person that's looking to buy peanut butter and jelly. We don't need that. That's not what we want," said Agrusa.

“We are the premium destination so let’s go back and have tourists have to pay a little more to get here.”

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