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More than 9,000 have already taken advantage of inter-island ‘vaccine passport’ program

Lihue Airport, Kauai
Lihue Airport, Kauai(HNN File)
Published: May. 17, 2021 at 10:47 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been almost a week since Hawaii launched its “vaccine passport” program for inter-island travelers, allowing fully vaccinated people to skip testing and quarantine requirements.

More than 9,400 people have taken advantage of the exemption so far, according to Safe Travels data on the state’s COVID-19 website.

Travel experts say residents will be more likely to help the economy of the neighbor islands because they can skip testing requirements.

“Now that we don’t have to test, that can be an extra $300 each that we might have in our pocket to spend, say, in a mom-and-pop store or restaurant,” said Jerry Agrusa, professor in the School of Travel Industry Management at the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii.

Travel was also up last week from the week previously.

The week of May 3, airport officials screened 179,000 trans-Pacific and inter-island travelers. Last week, more than 204,000 were screened, according to data from the state.

Airlines are also adapting to that growing demand.

Southwest said it’s doubling its Hawaii service, adding flights from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Diego. Agrusa said this will likely lower airline prices which have been high lately.

“It actually brings up an opportunity for more tourists to come here,” Agrusa said. “As more competition comes, hopefully the prices will stabilize. We need to have that go back to be leveling.”

He said the industry is adapting to the growing number of tourists, and in some areas, the state hasn’t met the demand.

Agrusa said one example is with the lack of rental cars.

Either way, Agrusa believes that changes, such as the vaccine passport and new direct flights, is beneficial to Hawaii’s industry.

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