HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first day of Hawaii’s much-anticipated traveler testing program saw 8,219 arriving trans-Pacific passengers.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority reports that 3,189 passengers who arrived in Hawaii on Thursday said they were here for “pleasure or vacation.”
Another 74 were in the islands to get married or enjoy a honeymoon.
And about 500 people marked “other” or “other business” when asked for the reason for their visit.
Meanwhile, about 1,600 people said they were in Hawaii to visit friends or relatives.
Nearly 1,300 passengers said they were returning residents and 400 said they were intended residents or members of the military of federal government.
Oahu saw the biggest number of arriving passengers, with nearly 5,000. Maui came in at no. 2 ― with 1,675 arrivals. There were 944 passengers arriving at Kona and 697 flew into Lihue.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the total number of passengers traveling Thursday was 10,120 ― a figure that also included inter-island arrivals.
Of that total, about 1,400 passengers had to go into quarantine because they didn’t submit a negative COVID-19 test or were awaiting the results of a test.
“I think 300 or 400 people are still waiting pending results,” said Green. “A few people just saw a very cheap ticket and jumped on it and didn’t take the time to go to the website and see that we do have a pre-test program. I do feel badly for them but that’s a very small percentage.”
Overall, passengers and state leaders said the first day of the pre-travel testing program was smooth. But some did report confusion about the rules, and there were long lines as some airports.
“Some of the points were there might have been longer lines is when you had situations when you had five flights all landing within an hour of each other,” said Tim Sakahara, Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman.
State authorities say they are currently working with the airlines.
United Airlines issued a statement saying, “We are working closely with the state of Hawaii on this.”
American Airlines said, “We have not made any adjustments to our flight schedule at this time. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Alaska Airlines said, “We are evaluating our schedule and working with the state to address this issue. We’re only operating one flight to each island during the peak hours (with narrow-body aircraft), but passenger screening during those hours is a challenge with many flights coming in at the same time.”
The program is seen as key to rebooting Hawaii’s tourism industry, which has been all but shut down since March ― when Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine for trans-Pacific travelers went into effect.
Industry officials say the traveler testing program is a start, but tourism is expected to return gradually.
In fact, many hotels the islands remain closed.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association says only about 25% of its members' inventory has reopened. By December, that figure is expected to be about 45%.