Experts: Hawaii hotels still hurting, but industry slowly turning a corner

Hawaii’s hotel industry is hurting and the road to recovery is a long one.
Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 9:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s hotel industry is hurting and the road to recovery is a long one.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, January’s hotel room revenue was still $90 million dollars below January of 2020. That’s a nearly 80% decrease. The HTA says there were 1.5 million “room nights” available but only 359,000 were booked.

Travel experts are confident that Hawaii is very slowly turning the corner.

Jerry Agrusa is professor at the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management. Agrusa says because Hawaii has done so well keeping cases low and because of the current travel climate around the world, the islands will become an even more desirable destination.

He says we must work to continue improving the Safe Travels program.

“They have a bucket list of places they want to go and while we’re not able to go to Europe because of the lockdowns over there - they can’t go to Japan, Korea and China, so we will be the place,” said Agrusa.

Agrusa says he feels it’s still too early to create a vaccine passport programs but guesses that’s where we’re headed eventually. Australia has implemented something like that and Agrusa thinks we should watch their program closely first.

Travel agents will also play a large role in Hawaii’s tourism recovery. They will be essential when it comes to assisting visitors with the state’s pre-travel testing program and COVID restrictions.

“If they could be experts to help, especially those that are in the older generation, to show them how to walk through the process and make sure that they get tested before they get here so that they don’t have to quarantine. I think that that’s really going to help, especially those that have already been vaccinated,” added Agrusa.

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