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Despite travel concerns, Hawaii saw big spike in trans-Pacific visitors for the holidays

Updated: Dec. 28, 2020 at 10:22 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - More travelers came to Hawaii from the mainland in the week leading up to Christmas than in any other week since the launch of the state’s pre-travel testing program, data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows.

From Dec. 17 to Dec. 23, the last date for which data is currently available, 89,050 trans-Pacific travelers were screened at airports across the state.

That figure includes the 16,995 passengers who arrived in Hawaii on Dec. 19 — the highest single-day total since Oct. 15, when the pre-travel testing program went into effect.

The spike in arriving passengers should come as little surprise. TSA authorities said Monday that the number of who passed through U.S. airports on Sunday was the highest since the pandemic began.

But the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country is making it harder for those travelers arriving in Hawaii to avoid quarantining upon arrival.

Hawaii is among the few destinations in the US that is quarantining arriving passengers, requiring proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure to Hawaii in order to bypass that mandate.

Travelers say finding one of the state’s trusted travel partners and getting a test result within the designated time frame has gotten more challenging as the number of cases across the country have risen.

“The travel part was fine, it was just a long direct flight from Boston,” said Michael Dolak. “But the testing was a bit more difficult, because the results came in all different times from the testing, because there weren’t many trusted partners in the Boston area.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green tells Hawaii News Now that about 10% of trans-Pacific travelers are coming into the state without test results each day, with many of them simply choosing to skip the hassle of the test and are electing to spend 10 days at home with family.

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