Hotel industry says it’s ready for visitors to return to the islands

Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 6:39 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s hotel industry says it’s ready for the state to reopen to tourists. And that includes being ready if a visitor falls ill with COVID-19 after they arrive.

Mufi Hannemann, who heads up the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, told a Hawaii Tourism Authority marketing committee Wednesday that when visitors are allowed to return, hotels around the state will have protocols to keep visitors and workers safe.

“This is a statewide effort on standards that has been vetted by the governor’s office, supported by the Department of Health, blessed by the state Attorney General’s office,” Hannemann told the panel. “All four county mayors have seen it. We’ve also shared it with our labor affiliates.”

Hannemann said the protocols for safety and sanitizing will exceed the Centers for Disease Control requirements.

He also said hotels will be prepared to isolate guests who fall ill after arrival.

“We will basically take care of a customer for guest that comes to Hawaii and during the course of their stay, they contract the virus, what have you,” said Hannemann. “It’s incumbent for us to take care of that person or persons until they require hospitalization.”

Hawaiian Airlines said it would be able to handle returning visitors, although visitor arrivals wouldn’t be anywhere near last year’s record numbers. That’s forcing Hawaiian to become a smaller airline.

“Today, we expect to be issuing WARN Act notices, which are the first step in furloughing workforce, to a little over 2,000 of our contract employees,” said Avi Mannis, Hawaiian’s senior vice president of marketing.

“These are not abstract numbers,” Manning adding. “I think because of the vast majority of our employees live and work in this community, I suspect that for many in the room they are friends and family and neighbors. And it underscores, I think, the really dire economic consequences of the situation we are in.”

“They have 7,500 employees that live, that most of them live in Hawaii,” said HTA CEO Chris Tatum.

“They’re the only airline based in Hawaii. They can’t move their assets all over the country and all over the world like the other airlines can do.”

Right now, Gov. David Ige expects to reopen the state Sept. 1 to visitors who test negative for coronavirus within three days of their arrival, although current conditions on the mainland are not promising.

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