Economists hope new federal funds will further boost Hawaii’s economic recovery

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Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 8:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Any boost in funding from the federal government is likely to speed up Hawaii’s economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

With vaccines rolling out across the nation and different states handling the virus with different restrictions, local economist are optimistic Hawaii’s finances could begin a slow regrowth — though uncertainty remains.

They now expect the tourism industry will see a surge of visitors from the U.S. mainland by the end of this year. In recent weeks, Hawaii averaged about 7,000 visitors a day, which is still significantly down from this time last year.

And it’s also still unclear how much funding Hawaii would get from the nearly $2 trillion relief package before congress. Hawaii experts say direct payments, unemployment benefits and aid to businesses and renters could reverse some of the economic damage.

“The fact that there is going to be some form of this additional stimulus is a huge positive for our economy as we try to resynchronize with the country as a whole,” Bank of Hawaii CEO Peter Ho said.

“They are talking about getting the U.S. back to — not just back to pre-pandemic levels, but back to where we would have been if the pandemic never happened by sometime in the middle of next year,” UH economist Carl Bonham said.

Experts say the pickup in international travel will lag because of the slow pace of vaccinations in Canada and Japan. Hawaii also has selective rules when it comes to travel to and from international countries.

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