After weeks of prepping for tourism’s reopening, hotels face the prospect of a costly delay

Updated: Jul. 11, 2020 at 12:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state’s struggle to make a decision whether to move forward with a re-launch of tourism on Aug. 1 is leaving travelers in limbo — and could prove to be extremely costly for businesses that have spent the last month preparing to reopen.

State officials say the upsurge of COVID-19 infections on the mainland has increased demand for testing supplies and created more risk of travelers bringing the virus here.

That’s prompted days of discussions between the governor and mayors on whether to delay tourism’s reopening.

On Friday morning, Gov. David Ige called those meetings productive and said “we’ll make an announcement when we are satisfied that the plans will protect the health and safety of our residents and guests.”

Meanwhile, hotels are busy preparing to welcome back visitors with a focus on providing a new standard of service that caters to safety.

But the excitement of reopening is being overshadowed by looming concerns that the reopening date could be delayed.

“If that date is going to change we’d certainly like to know sooner than later so we can make adjustments to our business cycle and to what we’re doing to ready ourselves and ready our staffing,” said Kekoa McClellan, spokesperson for the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The organization represents more than 150 properties in the islands, and was among the business groups pressuring the governor for a decision that led to the Aug. 1 date.

McClellan says postponing the re-launch will put them further in the hole.

“There are financial implications to the industry preparing for the reopening,” he said. “When there is a delay there will be costs associated with it.”

Travelers also want answers.

In response to the governor’s statement Roman Gokhman tweeted, “If I need to cancel my trip just tell me.” He went on to say, “This is not a game show.”

Oahu resident Julie Folk said she had planned to return to Hawaii next month from Colorado, but found no place to get a test for travel purposes.

“I just wish you could ask the right questions of our government leaders there, to get them to fully disclose what’s going on. And give a plan. And I guess you can’t. If they won’t talk to you,” she said.

Folk said she was prepared to travel to Las Vegas to get a COVID-19 test before heading back to Hawaii, but was told there were no tests available there either.

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